Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump's 'Enemies List' — end of year edition The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE said Thursday that “Dreamers” serving in the military will not be deported, even if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expires.
“We would always stand by one of our people,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
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.
“They will not be subject to any kind of deportation,” he said.
There are two exceptions to the protection, Mattis noted: 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 of the latter.
Mattis also said he spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenUS to restart 'Remain in Mexico' program following court order Far-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP MORE earlier in the day to confirm the protections.
“We have been through this in great detail before … so it’s really just a confirming call,” he said.
The Trump administration announced last year it was rescinding DACA, an Obama-era program that allows certain immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. It also allows them to serve in the military.
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 is a linchpin of ongoing immigration negotiations in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor, and House Democrats are pressuring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) to agree to do the same.
House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia Democrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday delivered an eight-hour speech in support of DACA, and said she will oppose a spending bill because it does not include an immigration fix.
—Updated at 6:52 p.m.