From yesterday’s blog post: The Obama Administration announced today that certain DACA recipients would be eligible to join the military under the Military Accession Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program if they possess certain language translation skills or or are a doctor or a nurse. MAVNI is a small program and only a few thousand have qualified for it over the last few years. The translation option would likely be the entree for most if the applicant is proficient in one of the languages on the Army’s list (which, notably, does not include Spanish).

And now from Julia Preston in today’s New York Times:

A Pentagon plan to allow a small number of young immigrants who grew up in the United States without legal status to enlist in the military has been delayed by the White House, senior officials there said Saturday, to avoid any conflict with House Republicans considering whether to move on immigration legislation.

Only that’s probably just White House spin to avoid the truth.

Margaret Stock, who invented the MAVNI program, could have told the White House that this idea was going to be a non-starter without some pretty major changes to the hiring rules for federal agencies. As Dara Lind at Vox.com explains:

But as of 2012, the requirements for enlisting under MAVNI include what’s called a “Single Scope Background Investigation,” or SSBI — an investigation used throughout the government, usually to give people security clearances. And according to Stock, it’s impossible for an unauthorized immigrant, with or without temporary “deferred action” protection, to pass an SSBI.

“SSBI items that cause ‘failure’ include having undocumented relatives, as well as any ‘law violations’,” Stock writes in an email to Vox. “I don’t see how any DACA can ‘pass’ unless the contractor doing the investigation ignores his or her instructions.” She adds that it’s possible that a higher-level official could tell investigators to “override” the instructions, but that would probably provoke an outcry from Republicans who oppose the Obama administration’s executive action on immigration. “Pentagon bureaucrats don’t stick their necks out like that,” she says.

Because the investigation process isn’t something the Pentagon controls, Pentagon officials wouldn’t be able to change it in order to allow unauthorized immigrants to enlist. The standards are set by the Office of Personnel Management, which controls human resources for the entire federal government — so in order for unauthorized immigrants to enlist under the MAVNI program, the rules for the entire government would have to change. Stock doesn’t find that likely.

The White House could potentially push through changes to federal hiring practices to allow DACA recipients to get hired which might resolve this issue. But that would mean opening the “going nuclear” toolbox that is not likely to be utilized until after the President gives up on Congress (presumably if Congress’ August recess comes with no action by the House Republicans).

And that just makes this leak look like the White House didn’t do it’s homework.

Greg Siskind