Pentagon considers changes to recruitment policies

The Pentagon is working on ways to begin enlisting people with family members who could be living in the country illegally.

The current Pentagon policy is that those with undocumented parents or other family members cannot enlist in the military, but the military is assessing its options in the wake of President Obama’s executive actions. 

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“We are working with the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate our options,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said Friday at a press briefing.

Obama on Thursday announced actions to grant legal status and work permits to as many as 5 million immigrants in the U.S. 

Under the plan, parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents could apply for work permits and deferred deportation. The president is also expanding eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which those brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work or go to school for two years. 

The Pentagon currently has a program, known as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, which allows only certain, legal non-citizens to enlist, such as those with critical language and culture skills. 

Enlisting through the MAVNI program would expedite citizenship processing and bypass a lengthy Green Card process. 

MAVNI was expanded on Sept. 25 to include those who were eligible for DACA, or those with non-legal status, but the department left it up to the military services to review and implement the new changes. 

Warren said there were 25,000 documented non-citizens who serve in the military, and about 5,000 enlist every year. 

“Since September of 2001 more than 92,750 men and women have become citizens while wearing the uniform of the United States military,” Warren said.