Associated Press

In an extremely telling aside to reporters, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that the roughly 850 immigrants serving in the military or waiting to start basic training aren’t at risk for deportation, the Associated Press reports. It’s a departure from statements made in months past, when U.S. officials declined to confirm the status of immigration status of those military members.

“They will not be subject to any kind of deportation [...] in terms of the DACA situation, it’s clarified they are not in any kind of jeopardy,” Mattis said, adding that “we would always stand by one of our people.” (That...is yet to be seen.)

From the AP:

Previously, U.S. officials have said the military members’ DACA status wasn’t clear. But on Thursday Mattis said flatly it’s not a problem. [...]

All of those DACA service members came in under a small, special recruiting program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, that seeks people with particularly critical skills. Many of them are fluent in key languages, including various Afghan and Iraqi dialects or perhaps Russian or Chinese.

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Mattis also said he confirmed the decision with Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, who told him that those active military members—as well as all veterans who were honorably discharged—are safe from deportation “unless they have committed a serious felony or a judge had issued a specific deportation order for them.”