An Army veteran from Chicago who served two tours in Afghanistan and had been in the U.S. since age 8 has been deported to Mexico because of a 2008 drug-trafficking conviction.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed Monday that Miguel Perez Jr., 39, who had a green card, was deported Friday. The move came after he lost an appeal to remain in the U.S. and Gov. Bruce Rauner refused to pardon him.
Perez was flown from Gary, Indiana, to Brownsville, Texas, where officers escorted him across the border and turned him over to Mexican authorities, ICE officials said.
Perez handed a laptop case containing 4.4 pounds of cocaine to an undercover officer on Nov. 26, 2008, authorities said. He pleaded guilty to the drug charge and ICE took him into custody after he served half of a 15-year prison sentence.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth has been one of Perez’s supporters. On Friday, she wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asking her to halt Perez’s deportation and to personally review the case. Duckworth said she received no response.
“At the very least, Miguel should have been able to exhaust all of his legal options before being rushed out of the country under a shroud of secrecy,” Duckworth said Saturday.
ICE has said that it is very deliberate in reviewing cases that involve U.S. military veterans and that any action to remove a veteran must have the authorization of senior leadership and an evaluation by chief counsel.