Miguel Perez, 39, has been a legal green card holder since 2001. He joined the army and served two tours in Afghanistan. He believed that he was granted citizenship when signing up but this turned out not to be the case.
A one-time drug offense has now turned into the possibility of deportation. After Bruce Rauner rejected his families appeals for him to stay in the country, Perez is now on suicide watch in the detention center where he is held.
To protest his deportation, he has been on a hunger strike, now entering his fourth week without eating. He reduced his diet to milk and Gatorade to balance out medication he takes for post-traumatic stress disorder.
During his time in Afghanistan, Perez suffered a brain injury from an explosion. Because of the injury and being diagnosed with PTSD, 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.
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.
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. Perez hasn’t been to Mexico since he was 8-years-old.
He has been placed in solitary confinement, but apparently to monitor is diet as opposed to disciplinary reasons according to the Chicago Tribune.
Perez was also supposed to meet with his doctor but was declined transport from the detention center to the doctor’s office.
“We were really alarmed by how he sounded,” said Sara Walker, a supporter of Perez who spoke with him on Monday. “I’ve been talking to him for over a year now and I haven’t heard him sound like this. He sounds anxious, depressed and confused.”
Walker and other supporters are continuing to fight to keep Perez in the United States. He has the support of US Senator Tammy Duckworth as well.