An Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan has been ordered to be deported to Mexico by an immigration judge.
Miguel Perez was a permanent legal resident of the United States, where’s he’s lived since his family moved to Chicago when he was 8.
Despite his longstanding residence and service in the armed forces, he is being deported because of a non-violent drug offense, for which he served seven years in prison, authorities said.
“Miguel is basically an American in every sense of the word,” his lawyer Chris Bergin said at a press conference where Perez’s family gathered to affirm their support for the veteran.
According to KFOR, Perez joined the U.S. Army and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he suffered a brain injury in an explosion.
Perez’s loved ones say he developed post-traumatic stress disorder, which made it difficult for him to find work when he returned to Chicago.
It was then they say he then started selling drugs.
Perez was convicted of selling more than two-pounds of cocaine in February 2010.
Now that he’s been freed, the father of two was detained by ICE officials because he is not an American citizen.
His family, meanwhile, has appealed to Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth for help.
“It’s a complicated case,” Durbin said in a statement. “We don’t want dangerous people to remain in this country, but we ought to have our eyes wide open … Here’s a man who risked his life for this country, maybe he can pay his price for what he’s done wrong here, and still get a chance to stay here.”
Perez has two children, an 18-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, who are both U.S. citizens. An appeal has been filed on his behalf to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Perez will remain in the U.S. during the appeals process.