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Military must explain abrupt discharges of skilled immigrants

Over the past 17 years, nearly 110,000 men and women have gained American citizenship by serving in the U.S. military. This arrangement is mutually beneficial. A Rand Corp. study found these immigrant service members typically have better records than U.S. citizens who enlisted, and an Army study touted their “strategic depth in manpower and key skills vital to the national interest.”

Now, however, the Associated Press reports that immigrants who enlisted in a special program that was intended to help the military by bringing in people with medical skills and fluency in 44 languages are being abruptly discharged. At least 40 people and perhaps far more have been affected.

AP was unable to get a specific explanation from the Defense Department as to why this is being done. There are indications that these enlistees have been categorized as security risks because of their family backgrounds or because background checks on them have not been completed. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., also objects to the program because it was established by President George W. Bush without specific approval of Congress. Yet noncitizens have served — and served well — in the U.S. military for more than 200 years.

If a policy that helps America’s national security is scrapped for no reason other than the Trump administration’s default animus toward immigrants — as seems possible — that is senseless and shameful. The policy wasn’t broken. It didn’t need fixing.

— The San Diego Union-Tribune

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