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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 MattisOvernight Defense: US, South Korea cancel another military exercise | Dozen sailors injured in chopper crash on aircraft carrier | Navy vet charged with sending toxic letters US, South Korea cancel another military exercise Top US Afghan commander drew his sidearm during this week's attack: report 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 NielsenBolton heads to Moscow for high-stakes meeting with Russians Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo 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 McConnellMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Schumer: Fight for Senate is 'neck and neck' Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor, and House Democrats are pressuring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Atheist group argues in court for prayer rights on House floor Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (R-Wis.) to agree to do the same.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Democratic candidate denounces attack ads on rap career 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.