A U.S. Army veteran who suffers from PTSD and served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently said.
Miguel Perez Jr. was denied citizenship from U.S. authorities due to a felony drug conviction he says was a result of his PTSD.
Perez was escorted by U.S. authorities across the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and handed over to Mexican authorities on Friday.
“He was dumped in one of the most dangerous areas of the Mexican border,” Perez’ lawyer Chris Bergen said in an email to NBC News. “We will continue to fight his case and appeal his citizenship denial.”
Bergen said that Perez, a father of two children who are both naturalized citizens, was left with no money and wore only his prison uniform.
Perez moved to the United States with his parents when he was eight years old after his father received a job offer in Chicago.
In 2010, Perez was convicted of manufacturing or delivering more than two pounds of cocaine in Cook County, Illinois, to an undercover officer. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and had his green card revoked.
Perez joined the Army in 2001, just months before 9/11. He served two tours in Afghanistan before receiving a general discharge from the Army in 2004 after being caught smoking marijuana.
Perez served with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.
After his second tour, Perez became addicted to drugs, which he says is a result of PTSD.
Perez told the Chicago Tribune that he mistakenly thought that by joining the Army, he was an American citizen. Perez’ retroactive application for citizenship was recently rejected.
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth argued that due to Perez’ service, he earned the right to live in the United States and receive mental health treatment.
“This case is 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,” Duckworth said in a statement. “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.”