Loading...
BYH: To the powers of PCC. You made the campus smoke free, that is ok. I hope that you never forget that Tobacco formed,...

Trump breaks promises, harms military in process

Steve and Cokie Roberts

Cokie and Steve Roberts

Loading…

Sunday, July 15, 2018

As a child in eastern China, Panshu Zhao worshipped the United States. "He read the Bible his parents gave him, watched Hollywood movies and studied the ideals of democracy," reports the Associated Press. "He jumped at the chance to attend graduate school at Texas A&M University."

In 2016, Zhao enlisted in a special U.S. Army program that offers a path to citizenship for immigrant recruits with special medical and language skills. He pursued his degree in geography, hit the gym to prepare for boot camp and trained with his reserve unit.

But now, the Trump administration has essentially dismantled the program, discharging recruits like Zhao and ending their dreams of becoming Americans.

"It's just like you're dropped from heaven to hell," Zhao told the AP. "I'm not a national threat. On the contrast, I'm a national merit because people like me with higher education and critical skills, we want to serve this great U.S. Army."

Trump has consistently, even proudly, proclaimed his hateful attitude toward immigrants, deriding them as "rapists" and "animals" who "infest" and "invade" this nation. He's advocated barring all Muslims from the country, and slashed the number of refugees accepted for resettlement by two-thirds.

But one of his most despicable actions has been to strangle the program that initially welcomed Zhao, called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI. His administration has set such high standards for security clearances that many recruits lose their eligibility.

Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who helped create the program and now practices immigration law, says the background checks for MAVNI recruits are much tougher than for job applicants at the White House. "There's no explanation for this except xenophobia," Stock told The New York Times.

Xenophobia is definitely one explanation. So is Trump's relentless determination to ignore facts when he's stirring up his base with anti-immigrant invective. Zhao is right: The program's recruits are "national merits," not threats, and the enhanced security standards imposed by the Trump administration are clearly not justified.

The program has recruited more than 10,000 new soldiers since its inception in 2009. A 2017 report by the RAND Corporation "found that the program's recruits were generally better educated and better performing than the average enlisted soldier. It also found that there had been no instances of terrorism or espionage connected to an immigrant recruit."

Trump's mendacity has real consequences. Alina Kaliuzhna, originally from Ukraine, enrolled in MAVNI with dreams of becoming a nurse and a commissioned officer. But her career plans are now jeopardized by Army screeners who labelled her a security risk.

"You've committed your life to a bigger purpose, and anybody who's willing to do that deserves respect and (to) be treated as human, not as a piece of paper," Kaliuzhna told CBS.

The threat to young people like Kaliuzhna goes well beyond the loss of a job. To be eligible for MAVNI, recruits have to hold a valid visa — for work, study or travel. But those permits will eventually run out, and without the protection of military service, the recruits could be deported.

An Iranian who joined the program after coming to the U.S. to study engineering told the AP that he was proud of "pursuing everything legally and living an honorable life." The immigrant, who is afraid to give his real name, has been devastated by his discharge.

"It's terrible because I put my life on the line for this country, but I feel like I'm being treated like trash," he says. "If I am not eligible to become a U.S. citizen, I am really scared to return to my country."

This is life in Trump's America. Even legal immigrants who want to serve the country and live honorable lives are being "treated like trash." 

MAVNI was created because it serves the national interest. And it is being jettisoned just at a time when the military is consistently failing to meet its own recruitment goals.

Instead of welcoming and utilizing these recruits, this administration is finding every excuse to break promises, break lives and besmirch the "ideals of democracy" that Panshu Zhao admired so avidly as a child in China.

Steve and Cokie Roberts are authors, journalists, political analysts and commentators.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

August 19, 2018

Early in my father's administration, when he and my mother flew to Rancho del Cielo, the ranch they had bought in the 1970s that was his retreat, his nourishment, I drove up to join them for a day or two. We were sitting at the dining table, and my father pointed to the window and the steep…

Patti Davis

August 19, 2018

Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at 76, was more than the undisputed "Queen of Soul." She was one of the most important musicians of our time, a genius who soared above genres and expectations to create music that will live forever.

She was not an opera singer, yet she brought down the house at…

Eugene Robinson

August 19, 2018

How can a president as successful as Donald Trump be so unpopular?

Fueled by his historic tax reform and an unprecedented regulatory rollback, the economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is just 3.9 percent — near the lowest it has been in nearly two decades…

MarcThiessen

August 18, 2018

The Boston Herald

The news that the FBI fired Peter Strzok broke this week, and with that we can begin to see big-picture truth take shape about the bureau’s role in the Hillary Clinton investigation as well as the Russia investigation.

It does not look good for the leadership at the FBI.…

August 18, 2018

"I don't think this is some massive, massive crisis," said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., in a statement that could not possibly be more wrong. Speaking three weeks after revelations about his predecessor's sexual predation against boys and young priests, Wuerl…

PONNURU

August 18, 2018

When the courts rule against laws our legislature has passed, which they often do, it never seems to enter lawmakers’ minds that those rulings are because of their own wrongheaded notions. Nope. Republican leadership is convinced those rulings are the result of too many Democratic judges. The…

Tom Campbell.jpg

August 17, 2018

In the 1981 sci-fi novel "True Names," Vernor Vinge describes a dystopian future in which hackers go to great lengths to keep their real-world identities secret for fear that the U.S. government might enslave or assassinate them. Almost four decades years later, it's not lives that are at risk, but…

Elaine Ou

August 17, 2018

The Fayetteville Observer

It was a group that would have a hard time agreeing on where to eat lunch, or even on a good color for wallpaper. They certainly aren’t of one mind about politics.

But there they were Monday, all five living former governors of North Carolina, two Republicans and…

August 17, 2018

It's hard to take Omarosa Manigault Newman's word for anything. But Lordy she has tapes, and they offer vivid proof that Donald Trump's White House is part clown show, part nest of vipers.

Omarosa achieved single-name fame as a contestant on Trump's show "The Apprentice," where she performed with…

Eugene Robinson

August 16, 2018

The Washington Post.

When White House counsel Donald McGahn asked White House staff to sign nondisclosure agreements, he reportedly assured them that, though President Donald Trump insisted on them, they were unenforceable. Yet on Tuesday, Trump's campaign filed an arbitration action against former…

284 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»