- Army Private 1st class Miguel Perez, Jr., was born in Mexico and grew up in Chicago.
- Perez served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was injured in an explosion. He sustained a brain injury and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, his family said.
- As per an immigration judge, Perez will be deported.
- Perez committed a non-violent drug offense after he returned to the United States from war.
- The family said that Perez did not get the adequate medical attention when he returned home and turned to self-medication with drugs and alcohol. [The Intellectualist]
On Sunday, his family and his attorney pleaded with the public and elected officials to intervene.
“Miguel is basically an American in every sense of the word,” said lawyer Chris Bergin.
Bergin says he’ll continue to fight to keep Miguel Perez Jr. on U.S. soil.
Perez moved to Chicago when he was 8-years-old and was a permanent legal resident. He joined the U.S. Army and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan where he suffered a brain injury in an explosion.
Perez’s friends and family say that injury, and the post-traumatic stress disorder he later developed, made it difficult for him to find work when he returned to Chicago. They say he then started selling drugs.
In February of 2010, Perez was convicted of selling more than two pounds of cocaine.
“What Miguel was charged and did a sentence for was a non-violent drug conviction. He never hurt anyone,” said Emma Lozano of the Lincoln United Methodist Church.
Perez served seven years, but because he is not a U.S. citizen, Immigration Customs Enforcement detained him, stripped his legal status and began the deportation process. He has been in ICE custody since.
“I feel terrible, because my 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 – now, he’s not a national?” said Perez’s mother Espranza Perez.