Despite serving two tours in Afghanistan and suffering from PTSD from his military services, one US army veteran was deported to Mexico after the US Immigration refused to give him citizenship due to a 2008 drug conviction. Close friends and family members are now saying that the decision had more to do with hatred for immigrants than logic.
Miguel Perez Jr. is an Army veteran from Mexico who hoped that his service and loyalty to the United States would eventually get him a citizenship, but despite serving in two combat tours in Afghanistan during his military career, the veteran’s unfortunate fate saw him being deported back to Mexico after his citizenship application was rejected.
While he was in the army, Perez developed PTSD which led him down a dangerous path of drug abuse, and he was eventually imprisoned for selling cocaine. The drug conviction became the cause of the former veteran’s downfall and his 5-year-long legal battle came to an end last week after the Immigration and Custom Enforcement Department decided to deport him back to Mexico.
The 38-year-old veteran’s family says that the decision came as a huge shock since they had all mistakenly believed that Perez’s services in the Army automatically earned him a US citizenship.
On Friday, Perez said his final goodbye to the country he mistook as his home after the US custom officers escorted him across the border and turned him over to the Mexican authorities. Perez, who was born in Mexico, left his country and came to the US as a legal immigrant only when he was eight years old after his father, a pro-soccer player, got a job offer in Chicago. In hopes of getting a citizenship one day, the young man joined the army and was deployed to Afghanistan for tour duty.
Two tours later, he was formally discharged from service after being diagnosed with PTSD – but his troubles were far from being over. After Perez was caught selling cocaine to an undercover police officer prior to his discharge from military services, he was sentenced to jail for fifteen years – but he had only served half of his sentence when the immigration department began preparing for his deportation.
Veteran Blames PTSD for Drug Habit
After being placed on removal proceedings in 2012 by ICE, Perez’s family blamed his drug habit on PTSD. His lawyer argued that a blast during his tour in Afghanistan had left the veteran with a traumatic brain injury which could likely have been the reason for his involvement in illegal criminal activities.
During an interview with ABC News, Perez’s mother said that while serving in the Army, her son had not thought of applying for US citizenship since he had assumed that his services to the nation would grant him a green card by default. That was not the case according to an executive order signed by George W. Bush in 2002 which allowed all non-citizens who served in the army to apply for a US passport as long as they had served ‘with honor’.
‘Dumped in a Dangerous Part of the Mexican Border’
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune in February, Perez said that he had suffered from headaches and loss of hearing from the bomb and grenade explosions during his Afghanistan tour. After being discharged from service, he returned to his home in Chicago longing for the same adrenaline rush that he got from combat, which became the reason why he started using drugs.
Perez’s lawyer, Chris Bergin, told NBC News in an email that his client was ‘dumped’ on one of the most dangerous parts of the Mexican border in an orange uniform and without money. Bergin vowed to continue fighting on Perez’s behalf and appeal the denial of his citizenship application.
A US Senator named Tammy Duckworth also chimed in saying that the ICE’s treatment towards a veteran who risked his life to protect the nation was truly shameful. She said that Perez’s situation is a sad example of how immigrants are treated when the law is driven more by hatred than logic.