On Friday U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a policy that treats non-citizens in the military as “second-class recruits” and prevented them from starting basic training. Judge Tigar found that the Trump administration failed to justify the policy, which would have banned non-citizen enlistees from starting basic training until after their lengthy background investigations are complete.
The policy went into effect on October 13. The DoD reversed the policy permitting expedited applications for citizenship and implemented additional vetting procedures and complete longer enlistments prior to applying for naturalization. The new policy directive requires that all foreign-born recruits, including legal permanent residents, must complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military security suitability determination (MSSD) prior to entry in the active, reserve or guard service. Additionally, foreign born enlisted personnel will no longer receive expedited citizenship until they have completed 180 consecutive days of active duty service or one year of satisfactory service in the selected service. Prior to this policy change, recruits under the program received a certification of honorable service required to start the expedited naturalization process after one day of service.
Judge Tigar found that the government lacked evidence to back up its claim that legal permanent residents posed a greater security risk than regular citizens. A longer wait to start basic training means that it will take longer to obtain the benefits of military service, which includes financial aid for college and an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. The decision is expected to be appealed.
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