February 08, 2018

Duckworth Introduces Bill to Help Veteran Facing Deportation


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced a private bill to help fellow combat Veteran Miguel Perez, Jr., remain in the United States. Perez is facing immediate deportation after being stripped of his legal status and is being detained at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and lived in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident since the age of 11.

“This should never have happened in the first place, but I’m going to try everything in my power to prevent this disgraceful treatment of a Veteran,” Duckworth said. “Mr. Perez deserves the opportunity to stay in the country he was raised in and whose citizens he defended. He has close family ties to the United States and removal would have a serious adverse impact on the health of this combat Veteran and that of his family.”

Once Perez returned to the United States from duty, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) diagnosed him with service-connected Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Lacking proper care for his condition, Perez self-medicated with drugs and alcohol following his military discharge in 2004, which eventually resulted in his arrest for non-violent drug crimes in 2008. Despite serving his sentence, his long-time status as a Legal Permanent Resident and his record of military service, he was stripped of his legal status and placed into deportation proceedings.

“As a Veteran and former VA Assistant Secretary, I have seen firsthand the harmful impacts that PTSD can have on the daily lives of Veterans when left undiagnosed or without adequate care,” Duckworth said. “We cannot simply leave them behind. Men and women like Mr. Perez demonstrated their commitment to this country, and now this country must honor its commitment to them.”

In August 2017, Duckworth introduced several bills intended to protect and support Veterans in similar situations and servicemembers from being deported or denied healthcare. Duckworth's proposals, two of which are cosponsored by U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), would prohibit the Administration from deporting Veterans, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service, establish naturalization offices at military training facilities to make it easier for immigrants who are serving in the U.S. military to become citizens, and bolster VA healthcare services for Veterans.