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Twice-Deployed Afghan War Vet Facing Deportation Is Running Out Of Options
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has denied clemency to a former U.S. Army soldier and green card holder with a felony drug conviction, increasing the likelihood that the Afghanistan War veteran will soon be deported to his native Mexico.
Rauner’s decision to turn down the clemency request for Miguel Perez Jr., a father of two who left Mexico when he was 8 years old and grew up in Chicago, was delivered by mail to his family on Feb. 7. The denial may be the final straw for advocates of immigration reform who’ve waged a protracted battle to keep Perez in the country. His supporters had hoped a pardon from Rauner would increase the likelihood of Perez being granted citizenship, retroactive to the date he enlisted.
As the Chicago Tribune notes, the retroactive pathway to citizenship is Perez’s last hope for avoiding deportation. In January, a three-judge panel for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request for relief under the United Nations Convention against Torture, which Perez’s lawyers invoked on the grounds that there’s a plausible chance he’ll be targeted by drug cartels for recruitment if he’s sent back to Mexico.
Deportees born in Mexico are usually delivered by bus to a border town, where cartels operate heavily. Virtually all of the deported veterans Task & Purpose spoke with during a trip to Juarez, Mexico, last spring said they had been approached for recruitment. People in desperate situations make for ideal recruits.
“When I was in prison, I was already getting offers, people who would say to me that if I was deported [the cartels] would send word back and all would be OK,” Perez told CNN on Feb. 5. “They would offer me the opportunity to make a lot of money and a lot of other things, but that was just a way to say, ‘You belong to us when you get back here.’”
“It’s not what I think would happen to me. It’s what I know,” Perez told a judge last year. “It’s not like I can...fit in and blend in. It just doesn’t work that way. How long can I hide the fact I’ve been deported and I was in the military?”
On Nov. 26, 2008, Perez handed a laptop case containing more than two pounds of cocaine to an undercover law enforcement officer in Chicago. He pleaded guilty to the drug charge and is currently being held in an immigration detention center in Wisconsin, where he was taken last year after serving half of a 15-year prison sentence. Like many veterans who have been deported or are facing deportation, Perez says he thought he had automatically become a U.S. citizen when he enlisted in the Army in 2001.
Perez’s high-profile case has helped focus media attention on the plight of hundreds, possibly thousands, of U.S. military veterans who have been deported in recent decades. (The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for tracking deportations, does not know the exact number.)
Advocates for veterans like Perez argue that the current immigration system is so inflexible that it flushes out even those immigrants who have made tremendous sacrifices for the U.S. while in serving in uniform. Few deported veterans seem to have Perez’s downrange experience. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and screened for possible traumatic brain injury after separating from the Army. That, his supporters argue, is evidence of a link between the two tours he served in Afghanistan and his subsequent criminal behavior.
According to his supporters, Perez returned to Chicago following his separation from the Army and soon reconnected with a childhood friend, who supplied him with free drugs and alcohol. Research has shown that sufferers of PTSD are more prone to substance abuse.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insists that it does take military service into account when determining whether an immigrant should be deported, however. ICE “respects the service and sacrifice of those in military service,” an agency spokesman said in a statement to Task & Purpose last year, adding that deportation orders in such cases are “authorized by the senior leadership in a field office, following an evaluation by local counsel.”
Navy SEAL and Marine Raider could get life in prison if convicted of murdering Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar
A Navy SEAL and Marine Raider charged with murder face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole now that they will have to appear before general courts-martial for their alleged roles in the death of Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, the Navy announced on Friday.
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Tony Dedolph and U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madero-Rodriguez have been charged with felony murder and other offenses, a Navy Region Mid-Atlantic news release said. If convicted, the maximum penalty for murder also includes reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a punitive discharge.
What started as a wildly popular Facebook hoax titled Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us back in June has since morphed into a real live event. That's right, the long awaited day is upon us.
As of Friday morning, people have begun to make their way to the secret U.S. military installation in the Nevada desert in search of answers to the questions that plague us all: Are we alone in the universe? Is our government secretly hiding a bunch of aliens? Just how fast can I "Naruto run" past the base gate? And how far can we take a joke with the U.S. military?
The Marine Corps is loading up one of its experimental unmanned ground vehicle with a buttload of firepower.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is working on a prototype of its tracked Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) with a remote-controlled .50 caliber machine gun turret and a specialized launcher for kamikaze drones to accompany Marines in urban environments, Military.com reports.
An Air Force civilian has died at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in a "non-combat related incident," U.S. Air Forces Central Command announced on Friday.
Jason P. Zaki, 32, died on Wednesday while deployed to the 609th Air Operations Center from the Pentagon, an AFCENT news release says.
At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander in chief.
The unit is planning a gala to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Marines' founding at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 16, according to a posting on the events website Evensi.