September 19, 2017

Amendment Cosponsored by Cortez Masto to Prevent Discharge of Non-Citizen Military Personnel Passes with Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) to retain military personnel in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program until their background screenings are completed was adopted as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate passed the NDAA yesterday evening.

“The MAVNI program enhances our Armed Forces’ readiness by allowing it to enlist service members with unique skills that are vital to our national security, and who are willing to serve and defend our country,” said Cortez Masto. “We should not turn away any skilled individual who is qualified to serve. I am proud to support our immigrants and service members by cosponsoring this legislation, and ensure that we are giving our troops the support they deserve.”

The MAVNI program allows immigrants with skills deemed vital to the national interest to enlist in the Armed Forces. It also allows MAVNI recruits to remain in the Armed Forces for an additional year while the Department of Defense completes their background checks and security screenings. Under current law, recruits are automatically separated from the Armed Forces after 730 days if they have not yet completed basic training—which no MAVNI recruit can do until they pass the extensive security screening.

The amendment was led by U.S. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif), and cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).