Undocumented immigrants

A couple of days ago, the Huffington Post reported that the Pentagon had approved a new plan that would allow a limited number of young undocumented immigrants to enlist themselves in the army and obtain U.S. citizenship in an expedited manner.

The Pentagon’s current program, which is called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), allows legal immigrants with certain skills to enlist themselves in the army and obtain citizenship expeditiously, without first having to obtain a Green Card.  Since 2002, more than 89,000 young legal immigrants have obtained citizenship through military service.  The new plan would extend this prospect to a limited set of young undocumented immigrants as well, giving them a chance to legalize their presence in the United States and obtain expedited citizenship, provided certain eligibility requirements are satisfied.

The new Pentagon plan had yet to be officially announced, but the New York Times is now reporting that the White House will not approve it any time soon, at least for another 2 months. The delay is related to recent developments with regard to the DHS immigration deportation review that has been put on hold by the White House. On May 27, President Obama announced he was postponing action concerning the DHS review of deportation policy and said he will not take any executive action with regard to immigration reforms until the end of the summer, thus giving a chance to the House of Representatives to implement immigration reforms by means of legislation. Nevertheless, President Obama instructed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to continue working on the review.

Previously, President Obama has used his executive authority to grant legal status to young undocumented immigrants on a temporary basis. Specifically, in 2012, Obama approved an executive order called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA allows young undocumented immigrants, frequently referred to as Dreamers, to legalize their staying in the United States on a temporary basis without obtaining a path to citizenship.

This time, it seems President Obama prefers to wait for Congress, rather than use his executive authority again, hoping the legislative branch will carry out comprehensive immigration reforms as a permanent solution for young undocumented immigrants.

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