Military/Veteran 'dreamers' will not be deported

Mattis extends protections to those serving or that have served

Jake Hughes
February 09, 2018 - 9:55 am

(Image Courtesy of DoD)


Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters that those service members and veterans who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will not be deported.

At a time when the DACA program and the fate of its "Dreamers" is seriously contested in Washington, Mattis said he talked with Secretary of Homeland Security Kjirsten Nielsen, and they both agreed that service members and veterans will "be protected." The program, which began under the Obama Administration in 2014, allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. President Trump said he would be ending the program, and it officially expires in March of this year.

According to Secy. Mattis, DACA military recipients would be protected if they met the following requirements:

  • Currently on Active Duty
  • Serving in the Active reserve
  • Currently enlisted and awaiting Basic Training
  • Been honorably discharged from active service

However, he also added that anyone who had a current case for deportation or had committed a "serious felony" would not be protected. The protection comes at a volatile time in the illegal immigration debate, but in practicality, it does little. The Pentagon stated that less than 900 service members and veterans fall under the program. Those are members of a pilot program Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MANVI. MANVI is a program that selects legal immigrants who are deemed to have vital skills serve in the military. This includes physicians, nurses and experts in a number of languages in the Middle East and Asia, according to the Pentagon. 

As of today, Congress has yet to decide the fate of the estimated 690,000 immigrants that qualify for the program. President Trump wants to expand the protections to roughly 1.8 million immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.