5 facts about that "deported Army vet" to set the record straight

The Morning Briefing
March 26, 2018 - 10:03 am

Perez family photo

Army veteran Miguel Perez Jr. is back in the news after it was announced by ICE that he had indeed been deported to Mexico on Friday March 23rd, after a years-long court case surrounding his legal status. A Connecting Vets OpEd piece on Perez was written earlier this year because the news coverage on Perez was rife with inaccuracies. This has not changed. Take for example this Yahoo News story which claims Perez was both discharged and arrested in 2010, neither of which is true. In fact, he was already serving a prison sentence on federal drug charges by 2010. We decided to clear up a few major points relating to the case.

1. He was not given an honorable discharge.

Perez served in the Army from 2001-2004 and was given a general discharge after what the Army termed a "drug infraction." He claims that PTSD incurred during a tour to Afghanistan led him down a path of drugs and alcohol.

2. He claims to have served two tours in Afghanistan, but the dates of his deployment do not bear that claim out.

Perez claims to have served two tours in Afghanistan, the first being from October '02-April '03 and the second from May '03-October '03. According to our own Army veterans, a standard Army deployment is 12 months long, meaning that the dates of his deployments indicate Perez served one tour of duty with a one month "Rest and Relaxation" leave break in the middle. They are certain that a one month turnaround between deployments, for a soldier not in the Special Operations community, is impossible.

3. His conviction was a plea deal, he initially faced much more serious charges.

Perez was ultimately convicted in federal court of posession with the intent to distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine. However the authorities say when he was arrested in 2008 he had a briefcase with multiple pounds of cocaine in his posession. Perez was sentenced to 15 years and served 7-plus years before being released into ICE custody in 2016, had he not been able to plead down the charges, he'd likely still be in the United States, in prison. 

4. Perez Jr. was eligible to apply for citizenship long before he joined the Army.

The Perez family moved to the U.S. when Miguel Jr. was 8 years of age. As legal permanent residents a.k.a, a "Green Card" holder, he was first eligible to apply for citizenship in 1994. **CLARIFICATION: As pointed out by a reader, Perez was eligible for citizenship in 1994 but would have needed his parents assistance prior to his turning 18, which would have been in 1998 or 1999.** He claims to have believed that his Army enlistment came with automatic citizenship, something ConnectingVets.com's resident former Army Drill Sergeant Jake Hughes says is very hard to believe. In the end, the fact is that Perez did not apply for citizenship until he had been eligible for over 20 years and already been ordered deported by a federal judge.  

5. Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Army veteran herself, has spoken out on Perez's behalf.

While no one who served alongside Perez has publicly come out in support of him, he has at least one high powered former soldier on his side. In recent days Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth has been actively calling for DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to allow Perez to stay in the United States. The senator released a statement upon learning of the deportation and was clearly angered by the lack of response from the Homeland Security head.

Should the US open VA offices in Mexico for deported veterans?

Deported vets can't get into the US for citizenship interviews.  This senator wants answers.