Citizenship denied for war veteran facing deportation

CHICAGO – Citizenship was denied for an Afghan War veteran and green card holder who served time in prison on a drug conviction.

A judge denied 39-year-old Miguel Perez Jr.’s, 39 petition for citizenship on Thursday.

Perez enlisted in the military before 9/11 and served until 2004, according to the Chicago Tribune. Sen. Tammy Duckworth wrote a letter supporting him.

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 said the injury, and the PTSD he later developed, made it difficult for him to find work when he returned to Chicago. They said 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.

“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?” Perez’s mother Espranza Perez said.

Perez is one of thousands of undocumented immigrant soldiers facing deportation.

Perez has two children, both U.S. citizens, an 18-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. He’s worried he won’t be able to see them again if he’s deported.

Last month, a federal court rejected Perez’s request to stay in the U.S.