May 20, 2014


Washington, D.C—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 that would allow students with Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to become eligible to apply to the U.S Military Academies. Currently, military academies accept international students from select countries every year. However, students who have gone through the American school system and are eligible for a work-permit and Social Security number under DACA, are still barred from even applying to our military academies. This amendment would give students the opportunity to apply and be accepted, but would not change any of the requirements necessary for attendance at the military academies. All of the undergraduate military academies require at least five years of service upon graduation.

“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.”

Congressman Castro serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He represents San Antonio, known as Military City, USA.

The military academies included in this amendment are the three schools the Department of Defense has jurisdiction over. Those are West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy.

Omar arrived to the United States with his family when he was just 2 years old. He is a senior in high school and will be graduating in the top 10% of his class. Although Omar benefited from President Obama’s Deferred Action and has received offers to attend college, he will not be able to fulfill his lifelong dream of joining the U.S. Army due to his immigration status. Omar’s siblings and parents also live in daily fear of deportation.