MOAA Heads to the Supreme Court to Protect Servicemembers and Their Families

MOAA Heads to the Supreme Court to Protect Servicemembers and Their Families
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MOAA has partnered with immigrant advocacy groups and other military and veteran organizations to champion a major immigration issue pending before the Supreme Court that may impact servicemembers and their families.


MOAA, along with seven other groups and individuals, signed on to an amicus brief which accompanied a petition for the Supreme Court to hear the case of Jiahao Kuang v. Department of Defense. Plaintiffs in the case are challenging a DoD policy that prevents legal permanent residents (LPRs) from entering basic training until their background checks are completed. While the 2017 policy has been replaced with a temporary alternative, DoD reserves the right to reinstate it – and unfairly delay the military careers of LPR enlistees.


These delays and other internal DoD policies have discouraged LPRs from joining the military.


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“Civilian [green card holder] applications are processed more quickly and less likely to be denied” than those choosing the military route, MOAA Life Member and immigration expert Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, USAR (Ret), stated in congressional testimony. “Immigration lawyers are now advising LPRs not to join the military because it will make their naturalization process more difficult.”  


Immigrants have fought for the United States since the Revolutionary War. In recognition for honorable service, the federal government has long offered expedited naturalization to immigrants who served in the military and codified promises of naturalization in law through the Immigration and Naturalization Act.


The military has helped break societal barriers on issues of race and immigration status. But it has not been free of race- and immigration status-based discriminatory practices, despite laws in place to provide a path to citizenship.


This amicus brief – a document presented to the court by parties not directly involved in the case to provide insight and expertise – intends to highlight the negative impact discriminatory practices have historically had on military recruitment, diversity, morale, and innovation.


Last week, the Kuang v. DoD case was highlighted as one of the “Petitions of the Week” by the SCOTUS blog. MOAA will continue to advocate to ensure military service is recognized as a viable path to citizenship.


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About the Author

Eryn Wagnon
Eryn Wagnon

Eryn Wagnon came to MOAA in May 2018 as a military spouse fellow sponsored by the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. She joined the MOAA staff permanently in July 2018 as director, military family policy and spouse programs.