March 23, 2018

Duckworth Sounds Alarm on the Imminent Deportation of United States Combat Veteran


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Upon learning of the imminent deportation of fellow combat Veteran Miguel Perez Jr., U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) requested an urgent update on the removal proceedings and asked U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to personally review Perez’s case.

“I was alarmed to learn this morning that Mr. Perez Montes’ removal from the United States is imminent and may be carried out today at O’Hare International Airport,” Duckworth wrote in the letter to Nielsen. “As ICE continues to hastily and aggressively pursue the deportation of this Veteran who served our nation in uniform, I am urgently appealing to you to stay his deportation and personally review his case. Beyond the injustice ICE has laid on Mr. Perez Montes in his deportation, I would find it shocking to learn that he will potentially be leaving with nothing but the clothes on his back. This is a deplorable way to treat a Veteran who risked his life in combat for our nation.”

Duckworth wrote several letters of support for Perez’s retroactive citizenship application. The Senator also introduced a private bill last month to help her fellow combat Veteran remain in the United States. Perez is an immigrant who grew up in Illinois and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He has lived in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident since the age of 11, but never became a citizen during his time in the military. On July 3, 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001, to file for U.S. Citizenship. Perez was not offered support from the U.S. Army to Naturalize as a U.S. Citizen on two separate occasions during his service: prior to his April 2003 deployment to Afghanistan, and upon his return from that deployment in October 2003. Perez’s parents and children are U.S. Citizens.

Duckworth has also introduced several bills to prevent Veterans and servicemembers from being deported and denied the opportunity to become citizens of the nation they swore to defend. Her legislation would establish naturalization offices at military training facilities to make it easier for servicemembers to become citizens, prohibit the administration from deporting Veterans and give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service. Duckworth has also co-sponsored legislation to protect military recruits who have enlisted through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program from being discharged or deported due to their immigration status. There are an estimated 1,000 to 1,800 recruits – including hundreds of Dreamers – who have skills that are underrepresented in the U.S. military and are currently waiting for the chance to serve our country and swear allegiance to the United States.