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Mattis vows 'Dreamers' serving in military will not be deported

Mattis vows 'Dreamers' serving in military will not be deported
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper 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.

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“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 NielsenBiden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension Biden's hard stand on foreign election interference signals funding fight 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 McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor, and House Democrats are pressuring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.) to agree to do the same.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases House Democrats urge congressional leaders to support .1B budget for IRS Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate 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.