Defense Secretary James Mattis declared “Dreamers” serving in the military will not be deported, even if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ceases to exist.
Although veterans DO get deported, Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, “We would always stand by one of our people.”
Matts said the protections apply to those who benefit from the program who are on active duty, in the active reserves, have already signed a contract with the military and are waiting to go to boot camp and veterans who left with an honorable discharge, reported The Hill.
“They will not be subject to any kind of deportation,” he said.
Mattis mentioned 2 exceptions to the rule: If someone has committed a serious felony, or if a federal judge has signed a final deportation order.
“That would be a judicial action that obviously we obey in the court system. We don’t have veto authority over a court,” Mattis said.
Mattis said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed the protections.
“We have been through this in great detail before … so it’s really just a confirming call,” he said.
About 900 DACA recipients are now enrolled in the armed forces or are awaiting boot camp, according to chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.
The program is set to expire March 5, and has been a big focus point for negotiations within Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor, and House Democrats are pressuring Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to agree to do the same, according to The Hill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is a strong supporter of DACA, and said she will oppose a spending bill if it does not include a solution for immigration.