Miguel Perez graduated from the United States Army’s Advanced Individual Training on the morning of September 11, 2001. The ceremony was interrupted when a drill sergeant came out to tell families to go home, and for the soldiers to march back to their barracks: the U.S. was under attack.
Mr. Perez says the soldiers didn’t believe it at first, they thought that this must be a drill, to teach new graduates to always be ready. But when they got back to the barracks they watched as the third plane crashed into the Pentagon on TV.
Overnight Mr. Perez was shipped to Fort Benning, where he wasn’t due for three weeks, for his next round of training. By March of the next year, Mr. Perez was deployed to Afghanistan with the Green Berets in the Special Forces as a light-wheel mechanic. He would serve for 7 months in his first of two tours in the Army.
Now, Miguel Perez sits in Kenosha County Detention Center facing deportation from the country he served diligently. Shiller Preyar Law Offices is representing him to get him home to his family where he belongs.
Mr. Perez emigrated with his family from Mexico to the United States, legally, as a child in 1989. He went to Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Carl Schurz High School on the Northwest side of Chicago, and after graduation he attended St. Augustine College. There, he enlisted in the Army in 2001.
As a result of his time in the military, Mr. Perez, like up to 20% of veterans of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom,’ suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When he returned to Chicago he started having panic attacks, flashbacks, and mood swings. This condition caused him to withdraw from public spaces and he started to self medicate with drugs and alcohol.
In 2008 Mr. Perez pled guilty to delivering a package of cocaine for a friend, who had been under investigation by law enforcement for some time. While serving his prison sentence Mr. Perez obtained an associate’s degree and was a teacher’s assistant in the prison’s school program. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and finally got psychiatric help for his PTSD. He went to every class they had on anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. He started going to church faithfully, took parenting classes, and maintained regular contact with his daughter.
But the day he was released from his criminal sentence in September 2016, Mr. Perez was taken into custody of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Wisconsin. At the first facility he was taken to he didn’t have access to his medication or other mental health care, despite multiple requests.
Shiller Preyar Law Offices (SPLO) attorneys have been in immigration court for Mr. Perez since February 2017; in early July an immigration judge ordered Mr. Perez be deported. But later that month, SPLO lead immigration attorney Chris Bergin convinced a judge to let Mr. Perez stay in the country while he appealed the decision. In September SPLO filed a petition for the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals to review the deportation order.
Miguel Perez admitted his crime and has served his sentence. He has committed to learning how he got to the point that he engaged in criminal activity, and has worked to actively better himself so that he can re-enter society and help others avoid making the same mistakes.
With community support as well as the support of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth; U.S. Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez; Illinois State Senator Iris Y. Martinez; Illinois State Representative Cynthia Soto, along with two reverends who have commended Perez on his rehabilitation, Shiller Preyar Law Offices is proud to pursue justice for Mr. Perez.
Blog Author: Christina Pillsbury
Photo: Family Photograph