A U.S. Military veteran and inexperienced card holder with a felony drug conviction started a starvation strike Wednesday to protest his possible deportation, after a federal court docket denied his enchantment to stay within the nation the place he has lived since age eight.
Miguel Perez Jr., 39, a Chicago resident who served two excursions of responsibility in Afghanistan and lately completed a jail time period on a drug conviction, had sought to stay within the U.S., arguing his life can be at risk if he have been deported to Mexico, the place drug cartels goal veterans with fight expertise to work on their behalf, or else.
A 3-judge panel for the seventh U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals rejected that argument final week.
Perez mentioned he believes deportation means sure demise and the one factor left to do is begin an “excessive quick” till he’s granted aid.
“If it comes all the way down to me being deported, I might slightly go away this world within the nation I gave my coronary heart for,” Perez mentioned in an interview from the detention middle the place he has been in custody for the final 12 months.
Perez, who has two youngsters who’re U.S. residents, is one among many authorized everlasting residents who served within the American army then confronted the potential of deportation to their native international locations after committing against the law.
Perez mentioned he mistakenly thought he turned a U.S. citizen when he took an oath to guard the nation. He says his army superiors by no means provided to assist him expedite his citizenship.
After his army service, Perez sought therapy on the Veterans Affairs hospital in Maywood, the place docs recognized him with post-traumatic stress dysfunction. He was purported to return for extra checks to find out whether or not he additionally had a traumatic mind harm.
Within the meantime, he reconnected with a childhood buddy who offered free medicine and alcohol. On Nov. 26, 2008, whereas with that buddy, Perez handed a laptop computer case containing cocaine to an undercover officer. Perez pleaded responsible to the drug cost and served half of a 15-year jail sentence.
Whereas Perez was convicted of delivering lower than 100 grams of cocaine, prosecutors mentioned he was arrested for delivering way more and obtained a lowered sentence after a plea deal. Prosecutors additionally identified that Perez was given a common discharge from the army after a drug infraction.
Perez mentioned he found the citizenship oversight when he was summoned to immigration court docket shortly earlier than his September 2016 launch from jail. As an alternative of heading dwelling to Chicago, Perez was positioned within the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and transferred to a Wisconsin detention middle for immigrants awaiting deportation.
His legal professional Chris Bergin mentioned he has filed a keep on two grounds. One relies on a medical analysis discovering that Perez wants fast consideration for PTSD and his mind harm. The opposite seeks retroactive citizenship for Perez to when he joined the army in 2001.
Perez and his supporters are additionally getting ready, if needed, to file an enchantment to the total panel of the seventh U.S. Circuit and have requested Gov. Bruce Rauner to grant a pardon to Perez for his legal conviction, supporters mentioned. If Rauner grants the pardon, it’s not clear how that may have an effect on the deportation case.
Carlos Luna, founder and president of a inexperienced card veteran chapter of the League of Latin American Residents (LULAC), mentioned he’s deeply troubled by Perez’s resolution to quick, given his bodily and psychological situation.
“It’s fairly ridiculous veteran has to go on a starvation strike simply to have the ability to keep,” Luna mentioned. “Simply final evening our president was speaking about uniting the nation and the reverence for veterans.
“I don’t assume it ought to come to this,” he added. “He’s undoubtedly not getting the care he’s earned.”