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Dozens of discharged immigrant recruits are being reinstated after reviews concluded they were falsely flagged as security risks during counterintelligence screenings.
The Department of Defense fell under intense scrutiny in July after an Associated Press story revealed it had been quietly discharging immigrants recruited through a program that promised expedited citizenship through military service. The report stated that some recruits were given no reason for their discharge while others were given nonsensical or contradictory reasons.
Results of background and security checks, often cited as the reason for an immigrant recruit’s discharge, have been revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, according to reports.
The Washington Post reported that the discharges were often related to the recruits’ foreign ties, including the existence of foreign relatives, sending money overseas or making routine phone calls to family members abroad. Foreign ties are commonly flagged during counterintelligence screenings, but none of the screenings that were obtained by the New York Times showed any evidence of involvement with terrorist or foreign intelligence organizations.
Other recruits were flagged erroneously. In one case, the investigator – who is not a medical professional – noted that the recruit might have autism. The recruit, a Chinese PhD student who has never been diagnosed with the condition, was reportedly flagged for a “lack of interpersonal skills” because he did not laugh at the investigator’s joke. Other errors included the wrong country of origin and incorrect information regarding recruits’ family members or financial backgrounds, reports say.
Several lawsuits have been filed, claiming the discharges violate Army policy and even the Constitution. According to the Post, court filings show the Army is currently reviewing the records of nearly 150 discharged recruits.