September 27, 2019

Duckworth Meets with U.S. Army Combat Veteran that Donald Trump Cruelly Deported


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) yesterday met with deported U.S. combat Veteran Miguel Perez, Jr., after he was paroled back into the country following Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker granting him clemency. Senator Duckworth has worked on Miguel Perez’s case for nearly two years and was active in efforts to stop the Trump Administration from deporting him in the first place, introducing a private bill in February of 2018 to help him remain in the United States. She wrote several letters of support for Perez’s retroactive citizenship application, as well as a letter asking former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to personally review Perez’s case. After Perez’s deportation, Duckworth spoke out, calling the deportation 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.”

“Miguel Perez never should have been deported by the country he fought to defend,” Duckworth said. “It was an honor to finally meet him after working for nearly two years to ensure he can become a citizen of the country he loves and considers home. I hope that one day soon I’ll be able to call him a fellow American.”

Perez served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and lived in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident since the age of 11. 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 a record of military service that should have enabled him to become a citizen, he was stripped of his legal status and eventually deported to Mexico by the Trump Administration.

Earlier this year, on the one-year anniversary of Perez’s deportation, Duckworth re-introduced three bills to protect and support Veterans and servicemembers. Her proposals—the Veterans Visa and Protection Act, HOPE Act and I-VETS Act—would prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen VA healthcare services for Veterans.