U.S. service members who are a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program cannot be deported, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told Pentagon reporters today.
“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,” the secretary told reporters.
Exceptions would apply if a service member either has committed a serious felony or has received a federal judge’s signed deportation order, Mattis said, adding that he is not aware of either case applying to a U.S. service member.
“I’m working right now with the secretary of homeland security,” he said. “We’ve been over [the DACA issue] in great detail.”
Attack in Syria
The secretary also confirmed “about 300” Syrian pro-regime forces were involved in yesterday’s surprise attack on Syrian Democratic Forces, which are fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He called the attack on the SDF “very serious,” and said it is not yet known what forces launched the pro-regime attack on the U.S.-led and coalition-backed SDF.
“I would characterize it as a perplexing situation,” Mattis said, noting that U.S. Special Forces were with the SDF during the attack. “I’m not sure why [regime forces] would do this, because it was [an SDF] headquarters. They began shelling it with artillery, and immediately the deconfliction line was in use. They were moving with tanks, obviously in the same direction they were firing.
“At the end of our effort to defend ourselves,” Mattis continued, “their artillery was knocked out, two of the tanks were knocked, out [and] they had casualties. The Russians told the U.S. military they did not have forces there, he added.
“It was self-defense, [and we are] not getting engaged in the Syrian civil war. We’re there to fight ISIS,” he said. “That’s what those [SDF] troops were doing – coordinating strikes against ISIS,” when the unexplained attack took place.
The secretary also confirmed that President Donald J. Trump has inquired about a military parade.
“The president is looking at a parade – I owe him some options,” he said. “We’ll turn it over to the military guys who know how to do parades and we’ll do options, and we’ll work out everything from size to participation and the cost. When I get clear options, I’ll send those over to the White House, and I’ll go over and talk with [the president].”
Aside from saying he understands that the president wants the parade to be in Washington, Mattis said he could not provide further details on the parade because his conversations with the president are confidential.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)