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Congressman Ruben Gallego

Representing the 7th District of Arizona

Rep. Gallego Introduces “Enable DREAMers to Serve in Uniform” Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act

April 29, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today Congressman Ruben Gallego introduced the “Enable DREAMers to Serve in Uniform” amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment urges the Secretary of Defense to consider allowing DACA-eligible individuals to serve in the military. DACA already grants work permits but doesn’t allow DREAMers to join our Armed Forces.

Please see Congressman Gallego's prepared remarks below:

Mr. Chairman,

I want to tell you about a young man from my district named Jose.  

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Jose loved war movies and dreamed of one day becoming a Navy SEAL.   

In high school, Jose met a Navy recruiter and told him about his ambition to fight for our country in uniform.     

Then he told the recruiter something else—something which has prevented Jose from realizing his dream to this day. 

He told the recruiter about his undocumented immigration status.   

Years later, Jose still hasn’t given up. ““I want to serve my country,” he says, “to show how grateful I am for all it has provided me.”

That’s why I’m offering this amendment – to enable brave, talented young people like Jose to give back to the country they love by serving in our Armed Forces. 

My amendment is very straightforward. 

It would simply encourage the Secretary of Defense to consider allowing individuals to serve in the military who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA by the Department of Homeland Security. 

The strength of our military isn’t just measured by the size our arsenal or by the sophistication of our weapons but by the quality of our people.

Our military needs the best soldiers, marines and airmen it can get. 

We shouldn’t let our broken immigration system stand in the way of our military’s recruitment goals.    

By statute, the Secretary can authorize the enlistment of non-citizens when it is “vital to the national interest.”  And enabling the best and brightest in our nation to serve in uniform, including DREAMers, is clearly “vital to the national interest.”  

Mr. Chairman, these young people are Americans in every respect except on paper.  

I fought in Iraq and I know that on the battlefield what matters isn’t whether you have the right papers, it’s whether you have the right skills and the right character. 

Let’s set politics aside and do what’s right for America and for the patriotic young people known as the DREAMers who want nothing more than to serve our nation in uniform. 

Thank you.