U.S. Army Is Discharging Immigrant Recruits Who Were Promised Citizenship

Dozens of immigrant recruits who joined the military through a special Defense Department program, promising a path to citizenship, have been abruptly discharged with little or no explanation.

Panshu Zhao moved to the U.S. from China about eight years ago to study. It was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

Since then he has completed a graduate degree and is now pursuing a doctorate in geography at Texas A&M University. In describing his life to NPR's Steve Inskeep on Friday, he divided it into two parts: His life in China and his American life.

The latter includes regular attendance at a Christian church and a deep respect for the military. So deep in fact, that in 2016 he enlisted and has been serving in the Army Reserve while awaiting orders for full-time training.

But Zhao recently found himself among dozens of immigrant recruits who joined the military through a special Defense Department program promising an expedited path to citizenship, but then abruptly discharged with little or no explanation.

, about 40 enlistees — reservists and active duty recruits, all in the country legally — had been waiting for years to be cleared for duty before beingto serve in the U.S. military. And for many, the rejection has thrown their immigration status into limbo.

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