CBS BALTIMORE – A US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
The deportation follows an earlier decision by US authorities to deny Miguel Perez’s citizenship application because of a felony drug conviction, despite his service and the PTSD he says it caused.
Perez, 39, was escorted across the US-Mexico border from Texas and handed over to Mexican authorities Friday, ICE said in a statement.
Perez came here with his father when he was 8 over a job offer:
Perez was born in Mexico and legally came to the United States at age 8 when his father, Miguel Perez Sr., a semi-pro soccer player, moved the family to Chicago because of a job offer, Perez told CNN earlier. He has two children born in the United States. His parents and one sister are now naturalized American citizens, and another sister is an American citizen by birth.
It’s a complicated case. Perez has said that what he saw and experienced in Afghanistan sent his life off the rails, leading to heavy drinking, a drug addiction and ultimately to his felony conviction.
“After the second tour, there was more alcohol and that was also when I tried some drugs,” Perez said last month. “But the addiction really started after I got back to Chicago, when I got back home, because I did not feel very sociable.”
Perez’s conviction and sentence:
In 2010, he was convicted in Cook County, Illinois, on charges related to delivering more than 2 pounds of cocaine to an undercover officer. He was sentenced to 15 years and his green card was revoked. He had served half his sentence when ICE began deportation proceedings. He had been in the agency’s custody since 2016.
Perez has said he was surprised to be in ICE detention and mistakenly believed that enlisting in the Army would automatically give him US citizenship, according to his lawyer, Chris Bergin. His retroactive application for citizenship was denied earlier this month. While there are provisions for expediting troops’ naturalization process, a main requirement is that the applicant demonstrate “good moral character,” and the drug conviction was enough to sway the decision against his application, Bergin said.
His tours in Afghanistan:
Perez enlisted in the Army in 2001, just months before 9/11. He served in Afghanistan from October 2002 to April 2003 and again from May to October 2003, according to his lawyer. He left the Army in 2004 with a general discharge after he was caught smoking marijuana on base.
I bolded the portion above for the sole reason to point out Perez had a green card. He wasn’t an illegal. He was a legal resident who fought for the US in Afghanistan.
It’s also worth noting that Perez was taken into custody during the Obama administration in 2016. It sounds like they wanted to deport him as well.
Perhaps there is more to this story than we are being told, however it seems to me that he should have allowed him to serve out his sentence instead of deporting him to Mexico. I think that’s the least we could do given his service, as well as the fact that these were only drug charges and not violent crimes.
Perez went on a hunger strike earlier this year, saying he feared deportation would mean death. Aside from not getting the treatment he needs, he told CNN that he fears Mexican drug cartels will try to recruit him because of his combat experience and will murder him if he doesn’t cooperate.
“If they are sentencing me to a certain death, and I am going to die, then why die in a place that I have not considered my home in a long time?” he asked.
This just doesn’t seem right to me. But I’d love to hear what you think about this…