Army veteran Miguel Perez Jr. served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. His country is rewarding him for his service by kicking him out.
While serving overseas, Perez Jr. was injured in an explosion, causing brain damage. He later developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and had trouble finding work in Chicago — the city he’s called home since he was eight years old. That’s when, according to WGN, he started selling drugs to pay the bills. In 2010, he was convicted of selling cocaine and did a seven-year jail sentence.
“What Miguel was charged and did a sentence for was a non-violent drug conviction,” said Emma Lozano, the director of a local nonprofit. “He never hurt anyone.”
Despite having paid his debt to society, Perez Jr. was stripped of his immigration status by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and has been awaiting deportation ever since completing his jail sentence. His attorney, Chris Bergin, is attempting to get elected officials to intervene on Perez’s behalf to prevent him from being sent back to Mexico.
Miguel is basically an American in every sense of the word,” Bergen told WGN.
Perez’s mother, Esperanza, is lobbying Illinois’ U.S. Senate delegation to introduce legislation that would make Perez a U.S. citizen and keep him on American soil.
“[M]y son, right now, is a soldier with no nation – no Mexico, no U.S.A., but my son fought for this country not for Mexico,”
Senator Tammy Duckworth has not yet publicly commented on Perez’s case as of this writing, but Senator Dick Durbin, who is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s in favor of allowing Perez to remain in the U.S., given his service in the military and the time served for his crime.
“Here’s a man who risked his life for this country, maybe he can pay his price for what he’s done wrong here, and still get a chance to stay here,” Sen. Durbin said.
Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.