Posted on August 6, 2019

Pentagon Rejecting Recruits over Chinese Relatives and Other Foreign Ties – Despite Need for Foreign Language Skills

South China Morning Post, July 31, 2019

In the past month, the Pentagon booted two Chinese recruits from the enlistment process because of their dead grandfathers, who had lived very different lives.


Screening documents obtained by The Washington Post detailing reasons that these and other foreign recruits were removed from the military reveal a pattern of cancelled enlistments and failed screenings for rather innocuous fact-of-life events and, often, simply for existing as foreigners.

Immigrant enlistees have been cut loose for being the children of foreign parents or for having family ties to their native country’s government or military.

In some cases, they have relatives who served in militaries closely allied with the United States. Those removals raise questions about the Pentagon’s screening process and why it has weeded out precisely the recruits defence officials said they needed.


But then denials began to quicken since stricter screening was instituted in late 2016, a lawyer for immigrant recruits said, pointing to family ties as a common reason.


The new vetting process has delayed enlistments by years, and the wait has turned more than 1,000 recruits – who enlisted as legal immigrants with visas – into unlawful immigrants whose credentials expired as their screenings tumbled into bureaucratic limbo.

The Pentagon has acknowledged in court filings that none of the thousands of recruits who later naturalised from the programme have been charged with espionage-related crimes, though one Chinese recruit has been accused of failing to register as a foreign agent. The new vetting procedures did not play a role in his detection, court filings said.

It is unclear how many immigrant recruits have been turned away as recruits or discharged as soldiers in recent months. In a spate of lawsuits alleging misconduct and violation of equal protection laws, the Pentagon has reversed decisions and halted discharges.


Other rejections point to speculative or seemingly benign information for immigrants living typical lives.

“You revealed that you maintain routine contact with your father and mother who are citizens of and reside in China,” said one document.


Maxwell declined to say why a family member’s involvement in a friendly military would raise suspicions.