Defense Secretary Mattis Indicates that DOD is Looking for Ways to Save MAVNI

Alexander J. Segal's picture

As of February 21, 2018, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program remains suspended, and there is no official word on when or even if the program will be resumed. However, for those left in limbo, there have been two somewhat encouraging reports from the past several months.

First, on October 13, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated: “We are taking steps obviously to save [MAVNI], if it can be saved.”1 Secretary Mattis added that he believed the program could be saved. As we noted in a previous post, the MAVNI program appears to have been suspended over security concerns [see blog].

On February 8, 2018, Stars and Stripes reported that Secretary Mattis offered assurances to about 1,000 aliens serving in the United States military who are enrolled in the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.2 Before continuing, please see our full article on the DACA rescission, updated regularly with new developments on the issue, to learn more about the broader issue [see article]. Of the DACA recipients in the military, Secretary Mattis stated that “[t]hey will not be subject to any kind of deportation.” Notably, his comments came after speaking with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who is the administration official chiefly responsible for the enforcement of the immigration laws.

The ultimate disposition of the MAVNI program is unclear, but the recent statements on the issue by Secretary Mattis indicate that the Department of Defense is in the process of looking for a solution that will at least cover individuals who have already enrolled and who have followed all of the program's rules and requirements. We will continue to update our website with information on the issue as it becomes available. To keep track of new MAVNI program developments, please see our main article on the issue [see article].


  1. Horton, Alex. “The Pentagon tried to kill a program for immigrants. Mattis thinks it can be saved.” The Washington Post. Oct. 13, 2017.
  2. Dickstein, Corey. “Mattis: Dreamers in the military are protected from deportation.” Stars and Stripes. Feb. 8, 2018.
Defense Secretary Mattis Indicates that DOD is Looking for Ways to Save MAVNI