As per reports, an army veteran who was deported to Mexico after serving a jail sentence for a drug conviction has become a US citizen. Miguel Perez Jr. held up his citizenship certificate for the cameras after being sworn in, saying that 'Here it is' and that it took a whole lot of time and praying while meeting supporters and reporters alike at a Chicago church. He said that he is here because of every single one present there at the time.
Reports suggest that Perez who was raised in Chicago had a green card but after serving 7.5 years for 2008 non-violent drug conviction was deported last year. He was granted permit last month by immigration officials to re-enter the United States from Mexico for another chance to become a citizen. Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker had pardoned him in August earlier this year. Perez said that when his lawyer called in October 4 morning to tell him the news of his Citizenship, he was in shock. Perez revealed that he did not think it was real until he held the certificate in his hand. He said that he was expecting to be returned to Mexico on October 7 because he was in the US on a 14-day permit.
Born in Mexico, Perez's family immigrated to the US when he was a young child. His parents are naturalized U.S Citizens and his two children were born in the US. He had joined the US Army and has served in Afghanistan where he sustained a brain injury and was diagnosed with PTSD. In a reported phone interview, Perez said that now he wants to advocate other deported veterans. There are other cases like his and he wants to use the platform to help the people who served in the military and were deported to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nigeria.
Reports indicate that his post-traumatic stress disorder which caused terrible anxiety and ultimately led to his drug charge as per Perez's attorney, Chris Bergin. Perez did not receive urgent medical care through a federal Veterans Affairs Hospital so he turned to drugs, his lawyer reportedly said. In 2008, Perez was accused of providing cocaine to an undercover police officer. He had pleaded guilty and has spent seven years in prison and was then turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which led to his detention for two years. Perez's deportation came last year after he reportedly failed to appeal to the federal appeals court to block his removal from the country. Perez has been living in the border town of Tijuana after deportation and said that he had faced dangerous conditions while he lived there.
(With inputs from AP)