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Congresswoman Betty McCollum

Representing the 4th District of Minnesota

McCollum Secures Bipartisan Commitment for Action to Honor Military Contracts with Foreign-Born Recruits

June 29, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) secured commitments from House Republicans and Democrats today for action to ensure the Department of Defense upholds it commitments to foreign-born recruits who have signed enlistment contracts under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.

“The United States has a moral and legal obligation to recruits who have signed contracts to serve in the military, no matter where they were born,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “I appreciate the bipartisan concern on this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues to find a solution that holds the Pentagon accountable and ensures it honors these contracts.”

During today’s House Appropriations Committee markup of the fiscal year 2018 Defense Appropriations bill, Congresswoman McCollum offered an amendment that stops the Department of Defense from reneging on its commitment to these foreign-born recruits. It formally prevents the Department of Defense from using any federal funds to eliminate existing enlistment contracts for recruits in the MAVNI program, except in cases where the recruit has violated the law or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. After Republican and Democratic committee leaders expressed a willingness to work with Congresswoman McCollum to address the issue as the Defense Appropriations bill advances to the House Floor, Congresswoman McCollum agreed to withdraw her amendment.  

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that “the Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation.” These recruits signed contracts under MAVNI, a military program that enlists foreign nationals who are not permanent residents but have certain essential medical and language skills to fill critical gaps in the military. After passing an extensive background check, medical recruits commit to serve three years of active duty service (or six years of reserve service) and language and cultural recruits commit to four years of active duty service. Recruits typically become naturalized citizens after completing basic training.