500 immigrants in special military recruitment program were discharged in the past year, Pentagon confirms

A Pakistani recruit, 22, who was recently discharged from the U.S. Army, holds an American flag as he poses for a picture.
A Pakistani recruit, 22, who was recently discharged from the U.S. Army, holds an American flag as he poses for a picture.
Mike Knaak/AP

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The Pentagon confirmed last week that more than 500 immigrants recruited to the U.S. military because of their specialized language or medical skills were discharged between July 2017 and July 2018.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI program, was put on hold in 2016 because of security concerns. As of April of this year, 1,000 MAVNI recruits were still in limbo, having committed to active duty or reserve service. 

The discharges were first reported by the AP.

The program was once very popular in Southern California, attracting thousands of temporary visa holders from Korea and China, among other strategically important countries. The Army's Los Angeles Battalion had the highest number of MAVNI enlistments in the nation in 2013. 

KPCC's Veterans and Military reporter Libby Denkmann spoke to military recruiters around Southern California about the end of MAVNI. 

This report aired on 89.3 KPCC: click on the blue media player at the top of your screen to listen.