Panshu Zhao: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Lucas Calixto's legal filing

Growing up in China, Panshu Zhao fell in love with America. He read a Bible, saw Hollywood movies studied democracy.

— (@TribLIVE) July 7, 2018

Panshu Zhao is a Chinese immigrant and PhD student at Texas A&M. Panshu joined the US army reserves through MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital To National Interest), a program that offers a path to citizenship for immigrants who serve in the US armed forces. He says that for two years he underwent background checks and counterintelligence interviews. He was issued a uniform and began training with his unit. But he was abruptly discharged from the US Army in April.

Panshu says that at least 40 immigrants have been discharged from the army without explanation in recent months. One Brazilian reservist, Lucas Calixto, hasa filed a lawsuit in Washington DC, claiming that he was kicked out of the military without a chance to defend himself. And many other would-be MAVNI participants say they have been stuck “in limbo” for years, waiting for their security clearance to come through.

But some observers say that Panshu’s story is nothing new, and that would-be army recruits are turned down all the time — for health and fitness reasons, or because they simply could not pass the army’s rigorous background check.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Panshu Grew Up in Eastern China But Says He Always Dreamed of Moving to America

“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.”

— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) July 6, 2018

Panshu grew up in eastern China. He says his parents always gave him American literature to read, and he loved Hollywood movies. He read about democracy and grew up with a very positive view of America. A Christian, he also grew up reading the bible.

He moved to the US to study geology at Texas A&M. He said the first thing he did when he arrived in Texas was join a church. In 2016, he enlisted in the US army. While waiting for his security clearance to go through, he joined the gym. He was given an army uniform, and allowed to do some training with his unit, although he did not go through basic training.

Zhao says that finding out he was discharged from the US army was “like falling from Heaven to hell.” He told NPR that he was suddenly discharged with no explanation, and no chance to appeal. “Suddenly, they told me I can’t be a soldier anymore without telling me specifically why and even not giving me any chance to appeal for that. That’s not really fair, to be honest with you.”

Panshu also told NPR, “I feel join the army is something I can do. I mean, I have my degree, I have a good degree, but I …read more



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