The Congressional Hispanic Caucus applauded Defense Secretary James Mattis for vowing to protect DACA recipients in the military in a letter sent Tuesday.
Mattis, a retired United States Marine Corps general, said earlier this month, “Anyone who’s in the delayed enlistment program or is already signed up and waiting to go into boot camp, anyone on active duty, anyone in the active reserves and anyone with an honorable discharge … will not be subject to any kind of deportation,” even if the protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expire.
“Thank you for your commitment to shield Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who serve in our military from deportation,” the letter, which was signed by CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Pete Aguilar of California and Adriano Espaillat of New York reads.
“Your assurance that those enlisted and awaiting basic training, active duty members, active reserve members, and those with an honorable discharge can continue to serve and contribute to our nation provides peace of mind to those who have bravely put their lives on the line to keep our country safe,” the members wrote.
Lawmakers continue to struggle to overcome their impasse on a legislative plan to keep the DACA program — the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors — alive. But Mattis confirmed no service members face the risk of deportation unless they have committed a “serious felony” or received a federal judge’s signed deportation order.
“President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program and impose a March 5th deadline is now less than 20 days away. While the Senate failed to reach a DACA compromise this week, the House of Representatives has several bipartisan bills pending consideration such as H.R. 3440, DREAM Act, and H.R. 4796, the Uniting and Securing America Act of 2018,” they wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Until an agreement is reached, Dreamers deserve to feel secure in the only country they have ever known.”
According to the Pentagon, there are roughly 900 DACA recipients that are currently serving in the armed forces.