Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that young
unauthorized immigrants serving in the military and protected
by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will not
He added that the only exceptions were for those who
commit “serious” felonies or have deportation orders signed by
There are roughly 800 DACA recipients, also known as
“Dreamers,” currently serving in the military.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Defense Secretary
Jim Mattis said on Thursday that service
members in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA,
program will not be deported, other than a few exceptions, even
as lawmakers debate the fate of children brought to the United
Until now, the fate of about 800 service members in the program
had not been clear.
“We would always stand by one of our people, and I have never
found the Department of Homeland Security unwilling to take any
call from anyone on my staff if we in fact found someone who had
been treated unjustly,” he told reporters.
He added that the only exception was if the service member had
committed a “serious” felony or a federal judge had signed
Mattis said the move applies to immigrants who
had already signed up for the military or were waiting to go into
boot camp, as well as veterans who had received an honorable
President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 promising tougher rules
for immigration. In September, he said he was ending the DACA
program created by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama,
effective in March, unless Congress came up with a new law.
The program protects about 700,000 people, mostly young Hispanic
adults, from deportation and provides work permits.
Lawmakers have struggled to reach a deal on an immigration bill,
despite broad public support for helping Dreamers.
Trump has said any immigration deal must include billions of
dollars to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by James Dalgleish)