Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner had the chance to reverse a court’s decision to deport a United States veteran who has a green card and retroactively grant citizenship to Miguel Perez Jr.
Perez, now 39, moved away from Mexico when he was 8 years old. He joined the military in 2001 and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Perez believed that taking an oath to protect the nation granted citizenship. During his time there, he suffered a brain injury from an explosion.
Because of the injury and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Perez found it difficult to find work back home. That’s when he turned to a life of crime selling drugs, and became addicted himself, according to WGN.
Perez was convicted of selling more than two pounds of cocaine in February 2010. He spent seven years in prison and the last year in an ICE facility in Wisconsin.
After losing an appeal last week, he is now scheduled to be deported back to Mexico. His family, including an 18-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, both of whom are legal citizens, are worried that his life will be in danger if he is sent away.
His family requested clemency directly from Bruce Rauner, in the hopes that this could be a way to motivate the government to grant Perez citizenship.
Rauner denied this request.
A letter from Rauner’s office stated that “Although the (Prisoner Review Board) and the governor do not disclose the reasoning behind a decision to grant or deny clemency, please know that we did not make the decision lightly.”
The family could file a new petition after January 31st, 2019.
According to the Department of Defense, there are approximately 18,700 legal permanent residents serving in the U.S. military. About 5,000 new recruits join every year.