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Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Amendment to Protect DACA and Undocumented Military Recruits from Discharge Due to Immigration Status

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined eight of their Democratic colleagues in filing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect Dreamers and other undocumented military recruits from deportation. The amendment requires recruits in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program to remain in the Armed Forces until the completion of background checks and security screenings. The MAVNI program allows immigrants with skills deemed vital to American national interest to enlist in the Armed Forces.

“The President’s decision to end DACA has jeopardized the future and service of many brave men and women who’ve volunteered to risk their lives for our nation, people and our democratic ideals,” said Shaheen. “These courageous individuals possess exceptional skills that are critical to protecting our national security—shielding them from deportation is both a moral obligation and strategic military necessity.”

“We must protect and support the immigrants who have signed up to keep our nation safe by serving in the United States Armed Forces,” Senator Hassan said. “These brave men and women are willing to put their lives on the line to keep America safe, secure, and free – and we must ensure that we are not preventing qualified personnel from serving in our Armed Forces because of a slow bureaucratic process.”

More than 800 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients with these critical skills have joined the military through MAVNI. It is estimated that because of a backlog in the screening process, between 1,000 and 1,800 MAVNI recruits have lost their legal immigration status while awaiting their results and are at risk for deportation, as well as possible persecution from many of their home countries for joining the military and swearing allegiance to the United States.