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Rep. Joaquin Castro Asks Congress to Open Military Academies to DREAMers

by: Katie Singh

Wed May 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

This week in the House, Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015 that would "allow students with Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to become eligible to apply to the U.S Military Academies." These students are more commonly known as DREAMers, because they are affected by the DREAM Act.

Military academies currently do not allow DREAMers to apply to or attend their schools. Rep. Castro's proposed amendment would allow DREAMers to apply to and attend US military academies, under the same standards and requirements that all students must follow. Undergraduate military academies require five years of service after graduation.

DREAMers have grown up in the United States, and consider this country their home. Those who wish to learn and serve their country should have the opportunity to do so, and Rep. Castro, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, is taking an important step to help make that a reality.

Read Congressman Castro's remarks about the importance of allowing DREAMers into military academies after the jump.

While introducing the amendment yesterday, Rep. Castro remarked on the importance of allowing DREAMers to serve in the military, bringing up the case of one of his constituents from San Antonio:

"For generations we've told our children that if they work hard they will be able to get ahead, because in the U.S. we've set up a system of opportunity, what I call the Infrastructure of Opportunity, that allows each of us- no matter where we come from- to reach our American Dream. However, we can't ignore that there are children in our schools and neighborhoods who have grown up with that same guiding principle, but because they were brought to this country without documentation, are now stuck in limbo with a lot of potential, but an empty promise.

The Administration's Deferred Action policy allowed many of these DREAMers to live, study, and work in this country without the fear of deportation. However, we must ensure that the doors of opportunity are not closed to them as they strive to get ahead.

That is why I'm introducing this amendment to allow these young people to have the opportunity to apply to our military service academies and eventually serve as leaders in the only country they have ever known. Though this is a small change to the to the eligibility requirement, it will make a huge difference in the lives of students like Omar, a San Antonio high school student who has been preparing through JROTC to apply to West Point, but whose status got in the way. I met Omar when he came as my guest to the State of the Union Address this year. Getting to know this student was a humbling illustration of the work-ethic and desire DREAMers have to serve and defend our nation.

I'm hopeful that expanding opportunities to all of our students, especially those who would sacrifice to protect our freedoms, is a cause that knows no party and is championed by all my colleagues."

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