A small number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. will have an opportunity to join the military for the first time in decades under a new Department of Defense policy unveiled Thursday.
The new rules will expand an existing program allowing recruiters to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training.
For the first time, the program — known as Military Accessions in the National Interest, or MAVNI — will be open to immigrants without a proper visa if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16. More specifically, they must be approved under a 2012 Obama administration policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
The new Pentagon policy may be the first phase of a broader government-wide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and create new paths to citizenship. President Barack Obama, frustrated with the failure of Congress to pass any substantial immigration reform, has vowed to aggressively use his presidential authority to change the way immigration policies are carried out.
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