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John Noonan @noonanjo
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Took the time to dig deeper into this @AP story. Earning citizenship through military service is one of those things that just about everyone agrees with, left or right. (con't)
My first reaction was surprise. We have some 70,000 non-naturalized service members in the Armed Forces, and we are also having trouble hitting some recruitment targets. Army being the worst. Military wants more recruits, not less. Didn't make sense.
I texted with a few friends at DoD who were caught totally flat-footed by the story, and were scrambling to put out answers without violating privacy laws.

I suspect we'll see some clarifying data from either Office of the Secretary of Dept of the Army today.
I also read the 2017 SECDEF guidance from the fall, that updated their naturalization policy. When the Secretary speaks, the military tends to follow those orders to a T. Figured this was an overly conservative interpretation of policy guidance, as is the custom in the service.
Linking it here. I'm not sure if this memo takes a harder line on background investigations than prior administrations. But it seems to state the obvious. If you're not a citizen and you want to serve, we have to check your background. Aggressively.…
So here's where I think the @AP reporter got a little confused. When you raise your hand and take an oath, you belong to the military. But you're not technically *in* the military. It's common to get the oath out of the way while initial background checks are on-going.
If you clear a background investigation, great! Offto basic training and then to specialty training. Congrats private, airman, or sailor, you're in. But, if you have some issues pop up during the background investigation and *don't* go off to training, it's a canceled contract
If you separate within 180 days of service, you are given an entry-level separation. It's not an honorable discharge. It's not a dishonorable discharge. It's just "hey, this isn't going to work." This 180 days requirement reiterated in Section 3A of the memo (above)
Hypothetical example:

You come to the US on a work Visa from Brazil. You decided to serve. You work with a recruiter, fill out the forms, take the PT test and the oath. But while you wait to ship out to basic, investigators learn you were once a runner for a Rio drug cartel.
Sorry, but DoD is going to separate you. Does it happen often? Not really... which is why AP is talking about 40 or so people out of 70,000 immigrants in service. But is it indicative of a wider policy to expunge non-citizens from active service (as AP story suggested)? No.
To summarize:
1. Immigrants are still welcome to earn citizenship through service.
2. DoD is not conducting widespread expulsion of non-citizens.
3. Participation in this program is down, but may be do to external factors like strong economy or stricter federal immigration law.
*due not do.

4. I am not sure if the 2017 memo instituted a tougher crackdown on non-citizen applicants, or was a departure from prior policy. I do know the MAVNI program came under scrutiny for just that, and had to relax standards after good reporting from Stars & Stripes.
4(a): here is the @starsandstripes story from March…
5. Security clearance reform has long been a hot topic in Washington for both citizens and non-citizens. But it's common sense that non-US citizens would have an extra layer of scrutiny (as anyone who's filled out an SF86 can attest).
Final. I had my own issue with this. I was born on an overseas military base, and almost lost a slot in ICBM training because I needed a Top Secret clearance. The confusion was that investigators thought I still had citizenship in that country (I had dual until age 18).
I'd renounced that citizenship before joining AFROTC. My case was a little different, as I was already a commissioned lieutenant during investigation. My commander went to bat for me and told the investigators to get their sh*t together. But it was a close one.
Parting shot. That commander is now a Brigadier General and he is still awesome
(also one addendum) Sometimes disqualifying information can come out *before* the investigation starts. In which case, you will get an entry level separation. No one is going to start an expensive background investigation for a pre-ordained conclusion (illegal status an example)
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