Jim Mattis press
On Feb. 8, 2018, Jim Mattis Reassured Immigrants in the military will not be deported.Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addresses a news conference during a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 16, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday said that young immigrants who enlisted in the military will not be deported even if their legal protection expires.

Young immigrants who came to the country as children and were enlisted in the armed forces would now rest easy as their fears of deportation was assuaged by Mattis who was reassured by the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen that military members and all veterans who were honorably discharged will be safe from deportation unless they have committed a serious felony or a judge had issued a specific deportation order for them, Associated Press reported.

The immigrants who reportedly joined the Armed Forces under the programme Military Accessions to the Vital National Interest (MAVNI) battled fear of deportation after the MAVNI program was suspended in 2016 amid security concerns. That coupled President Donald Trump’s termination of DACA program left some 850 immigrants currently serving in the military with an undetermined fate regarding their citizenship in the country as previously the U.S. officials had said the military status of the immigrants wasn’t clear.

The MAVNI program created by George W. Bush in 2009, enabled non-citizens to enlist in the military and obtain a green card for their services to the country.

The webpage of MAVNI says “MAVNI allows certain non-citizens in the United States to join the military and thereby gain eligibility for U.S. citizenship without first having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a green card.”

The program suspended in 2016 put the careers and lives of hundreds of immigrants who joined the program on hold pending severe background checks. The terrified immigrants have dwelled in fear of deportation ever since.

However, Mattis on Thursday said after speaking with the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen he was reassured that they will be protected by the military.

Associated Press reported Mattis Statement, “They will not be subject to any kind of deportation,” Mattis told reporters. “In terms of the DACA situation ... it’s clarified they are not in any kind of jeopardy.”

Mattis who said the administration was working with the Pentagon on DACA issues added: “we would always stand by one of our people.”

People whose DACA status was slated to expire were allowed to renew it by March 5. The aforementioned statement issued last September gave Congress six months to find a legislative fix.

Despite protection, status deigned on the current military veterans it still it isn’t clear whether the immigrants can enlist in the military to avoid possible deportation. As witnessed in previous cases over the years where the military did seek to provide protection to immigrants in exchange for their service in the force.

The Congress has struggled to find a solution to protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the country under the DACA program as witnessed in the fevered speech by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday in her bid to pressure the Republicans to vote on protecting the “Dreamer” immigrants, AP reported.