Miguel Perez Jr. says he is being forced out of the only country he has called home. The 39-year-old military veteran will return to Mexico after more than 30 years. Immigration officials ruled that he doesn’t have the right character to be a citizen of the United States of America.
“I’m not leaving. They’re taking me,” Perez Jr. said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
This is Miguel Perez Jr. He came here legally at age 8. Served 2 tours in the Middle East, which caused him to have PTSD. This lead to alcoholism & drug addiction. He was convicted of felony because of this. Now he was deported in the middle of the night. This isn’t right. pic.twitter.com/oI8IAlxzz3
— Ryne (@cortez_22_) March 26, 2018
While Perez Jr. did serve two tours in Afghanistan that duty did not qualify him to automatically become a U.S. citizen. That fact is why many U.S. veterans are deported back to their birth county. Many servicemen never realize they have to put in the actual paperwork and apply themselves.
“Mi hijo, my son went to defend both Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor,” Perez Jr.’s father told ABC. “Soldiers don’t discriminate against anyone, they defend everyone.”
Miguel Peres Sr in front of the White House before Inauguration day, fighting to stop the deportation of his son Miguel Perez Jr. (Army Vet)
One of the major stipulations why some veterans are denied citizenship is if they have a criminal background.
In 2008, Perez Jr. was no longer a serviceman and was charged with a nonviolent drug conviction and had to serve some time in prison. That is why he has been deported.
“To be eligible for naturalization, you must demonstrate that you are a person of good moral character,” the letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Because you have been convicted of an aggravated felony on or after Nov. 29, 1990, you are unable to demonstrate good moral character; therefore you are permanently ineligible for naturalization.”
“He lived like a citizen, talked like a citizen, why can’t he live in his country, Why? I don’t understand why?” Esperanza, Perez Jr.’s mother said to ABC.
Many of his supporters, which includes Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, says Perez Jr. should have every right to stay in the U.S. especially because he needs to be treated for his PTSD.
“This case is a tragic example of what can happen when national immigration policies are based more in hate than on logic and ICE doesn’t feel accountable to anyone,” Duckworth said to CNN. “At the very least, Miguel should have been able to exhaust all of his legal options before being rushed out of the country under a shroud of secrecy.”
People see the treatment of Perez Jr. as an injustice.
— Ann Morrow (@claygrrl) March 26, 2018
Perez Jr.’s entire family reside legally in the U.S., which means he will return to Mexico without knowing anyone.
One of the reasons he feared being deported is because, as he says, Mexican cartels will want to recruit him.
“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?” Perez Jr. said to CNN.
Servicemen who are currently enlisted without U.S. citizenship will have a harder time gaining proper documentation even more so than before. Even if they apply and fit the requirements for U.S. citizenship, their application may not be processed.
Earlier this year, the U.S. announced that they are doing away with the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative program, which helps active servicemen apply for citizenship.
Miguel Perez Jr, the US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan, has been deported to Mexico.
My brother in arms, who served this country, has been forcibly removed from it.
(Pictured- Miguel Perez holding a photo of his son Miguel Perez Jr) pic.twitter.com/4glnVjfrjv
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) March 26, 2018
“[US Citizenship and Immigration Services] has decided to end the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative,” a USCIS public affairs guidance document dated from Jan. 30, according to BuzzFeed. The document cited “changes in Department of Defense requirements for certifying honorable service for US service members applying for naturalization.”