Panshu Zhao grew up in China but he was a big fan of America, to the extent that he watched Hollywood movies and studied democracy. His parents had also given him a Bible which he read.
Ultimately, he left for the United States to attend graduate school at Texas A&M University. He enlisted himself in a special recruitment program of the U.S. Army. He had enrolled himself as an immigrant recruit in hopes of getting a legal citizenship in the country.
The 31-year-old immigrant recruit said that his basic training was delayed for two years as he was checked rigorously. He had to go through severe background checks, counterintelligence interviews and thorough reviews
Meanwhile, Zhao did not waste any time and started pursuing his PhD in geography at Texas A&M. He also started going to the gym, prepping for boot camp as he trained in his uniform, that too, with his entire unit.
He thought the future would be bright — but it was not.
Now, the soldier is among dozens of other immigrant recruits whose contracts have been suddenly cancelled without any reason. These immigrant soldiers were so fond of America they took upon themselves to protect the country at the cost of risking their lives. But their determination means nothing to the military under President Donald Trump’s government.
Ok, been about 6 hrs since I asked u angry lying #Trump'sters to provide ONE link to a story that says #PanshuZhao "failed" his background check. Not even 1 has been provided. But you keep spreading this despicable lie about this patriot. Shame on u. https://t.co/VOFpI3VqYi— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) July 7, 2018
Trump’s administration is determined to drive immigrants out of the country. The inhumane crackdown is not just threatening the livelihood of many hardworking individuals and separating children from their parents but it is also depriving the country of a dedicated workforce.
“It’s just like you’re dropped from heaven to hell,” Zhao said.
It is not clear how many men and women who got in the U.S. Army with the help of the special recruitment program have been driven out of the military. According to immigration officials, over 40 recruits have been discharged.
“Each recruit undergoes an individualized suitability review and the length of time for the review is dependent upon each individual’s unique background,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said.
In April, Zhao visited Washington, D.C., for the first time, touring the White House and visiting the Republican National Committee.
That is the month when a unit commander told him he was being discharged. He was told simply that his discharge was “uncharacterized.”
“I’m not a national threat,” 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.”
Last October, it was announced by the Pentagon that immigrant recruits are required to have gone through basic training and served honorably for either 180 days or a year, depending on their Army classification in order to apply for a citizenship.
But that requirement has been called out in court.
Some service members who were discharged couldn’t start the naturalization process because their basic training was delayed. The applications of many other members who started the process were put on hold.
Immigration attorneys mentioned many immigrants were let go in recent weeks after receiving an “uncharacterized discharge,” which is neither dishonorable nor honorable.
In 2016, over 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program out of which an estimated 10,000 are currently serving. Most of them go to the Army, but some also go to the other military branches.
Zhao is now really concerned about his future, but he wishes to get a chance to defend or appeal himself.
“I need justice,” he said. “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.”
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Pixabay, DZackCulver