A 31-year-old doctorate student who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2016 is outraged after his sudden discharge from a special program that supposedly led to an American citizenship.
Panshu Zhao, who came from eastern China, is among the number of immigrant recruits and reservists abruptly discharged from the Army ahead of July 4.
Some members reported that the Army discharged them because they had been labeled “security risks” for having relatives abroad or the Defense Department had not completed their background checks, According to the Associated Press.
“I’m not a national threat,” Panshu Zhao said. “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. I’m a good scientist no matter what.” https://t.co/3qTjiGseu2
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) July 6, 2018
Still, others were not given any reason at all for their sudden exit.
In response to the report, the Pentagon stated that there is “no new policy” to explain the “abrupt” discharges.
“Any recruit … who receives an unfavorable security screening is deemed unsuitable for military service and is administratively discharged,” Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Nina Hill said on Friday.
However, those discharged seek better reasons.
“It’s just like you’re dropped from heaven to hell,” Zhao, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in geography, told the AP.
Zhao enlisted through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), which promised immigrant recruits a path to citizenship. Former President Barack Obama opened the program to “Dreamers” in 2016.
Growing up in China, Panshu Zhao fell in love with America. He read a Bible, saw Hollywood movies studied democracy.https://t.co/AcwVUVmsHw
— TribLIVE.com (@TribLIVE) July 7, 2018
Zhao said that his basic training was delayed for two years after background checks, counterintelligence interviews, and scrupulous reviews. But he continued to work on his degree at Texas A&M University, hit the gym and trained with his unit in uniform.
Then, he visited the White House and the Republican National Committee in April, but his unit commander dismissed him in the same month, explaining the decision as simply “uncharacterized.” Immigration attorneys say this is neither dishonorable nor honorable.
“They ordered so many background checks that they destroyed the program,” immigration attorney Margaret Stock, a former Army lieutenant colonel who helped create MAVNI, told CBS News.
“The background vetting that the Department of Defense has ordered on these people is much, much stricter than any vetting that is done… for a U.S. citizen getting a job at the White House.”
Zhao believes his discharge was unfair — and the dozens more evicted likely feel the same way.
“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. I’m a good scientist no matter what,” said Zhao.
He wishes to make an appeal, “I need justice. This is America. This is not China. This is not the Middle East. This is not a dictatorship. And that’s why I love America.”