An Army Veteran And Green Card Holder Goes On Hunger Strike To Protest Deportation

After his appeal to not be deported was denied, a U.S. veteran green card holder has begun a hunger strike.

Miguel Perez Jr., served two tours of duty in Afghanistan starting in 2001. His parents Miguel and Esperanza Perez said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune that their son first enlisted in the army to “study, meet other countries [and] learn other languages.” However, after the September 11th attack, their son gained a new perspective. Perez’s father states, “when the towers were hit that’s when everything changed. He was in special forces in the army and they sent him to Afghanistan. So he was there from 2001 to 2003 on the first one [tour duty]. He came [back] really proud and happy. He defended the constitution. He defended the system. Defended this land. Defended the flag.”

Upon his return, Perez was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, with a possible brain injury, and was later convicted of a felony drug charge in 2010. In late 2016, after serving time for his drug conviction, he was put into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody where he has remained in detention.

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Perez and his attorney Chris Bergin filed an appeal arguing that if Perez returns to Mexico he will be killed due to drug cartels actively recruiting veterans. A 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this appeal last week. His hope now lies with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner who has authority to pardon his conviction. Bergin told the Huffington Post that with a pardon he will argue that grounds to remove Perez are non-existent. In his statement to the Huffington Post Bergin added, “Our other strategies are to push for his release due to a recent psychiatric exam that show Miguel’s PTSD is severe and he is in danger of self-harm if continued in detention. He needs to be released on either an ankle bracelet or an order of supervision so he can access his V.A. benefits to get treatment.”

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Perez’s father told the Chicago Tribune this his son has “served his time” and he believes his son is facing injustice. He added that his son has said “I feel like I am a political prisoner. Because the same system I defended is the same system that is now trying to deport me…I was there. I was in front of the battle. I deserve another opportunity.” While Perez awaits his fate, Shiller Preyar Law Offices have posted to their Facebook page ways for Perez’s supporters to assist such as calling Governor Rauner and writing letters of support to Perez while he is in detainment.