Community advocates and U.S. Veteran Valenzuela-Rodríguez attended a federal immigration court hearing to help prevent the deportation of Pérez, a fellow decorated Army veteran who is facing deportation.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
February 6, 2017
Chicago, Illinois – On Monday, Robin Rosche, an immigration judge announced that she will decide within weeks whether Miguel Pérez Jr., 38, a decorated U.S. Army Veteran with a green card should be deported after serving a prison sentence for a felony drug conviction. Pérez had served two tours in Afghanistan. He returned from war with severe PTSD and a serious brain injury and began to self medicate with drugs and was convicted of a non-violent drug offense.
Pérez has filed a request for relief to remain in the U.S. under the United Nations Convention against torture, which is a form of asylum.
Pérez told Judge Rosche that he would be targeted for recruitment by drug cartels for his military experience and his life would be in danger, if he failed to join a criminal organization. The U.S. prosecutors argued that Pérez doesn’t qualify for the asylum, but that he violated the law, was convicted and should be deported, despite his honorable military service.
Jesús Manuel Valenzuela-Rodríguez, 61, a U.S. Marine Veteran who had faced deportation was in Chicago to advocate for Pérez to remain in the U.S. Valenzuela-Rodríguez told reporters that it was unfair for the U.S. government to deport Veterans who have honorably serve. Valenzuela-Rodríguez and his brother, Valente Valenzuela, 64, an Army Veteran from Colorado are both U.S. Veterans who were born in Mexico.
The Valenzuela brothers have become advocates for deported Veterans and had faced the threat of deportation themselves for misdemeanor crimes, but were granted a stay in the U.S., until their immigration case gets resolved. Their deportation case has been stalled and no further proceedings are scheduled for the Valenzuela brothers.
The Valenzuela brothers were born in Mexico to a U.S. Citizen mother from New Mexico. Their father was a Mexican national, but later legalized and became a U.S. Citizen. By birth right to a U.S. Citizen in another country, their children born in foreign country become automatically U.S. Citizens, according to federal law.
In 2011, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures confirmed that at least 3,000 War Veterans were in process of being deported to their native countries. Most of the Veterans that have been deported had green cards and were in the U.S. legally.
On October 13, 2012, a group of U.S. Deported Veterans led by Army Veteran Hector Barajas, himself a deported Veteran opened the first U.S. Deported Veterans Support House (DVSH – a safehouse) in El Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico to help other deported Veterans from the U.S. ajust to being dislocated and facing removal trauma caused by DHS and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when separating families.
Today, Barajas advocacy for U.S. deported Veteran rights has succeeded in getting certain VA pensions to deported Veterans and continues to work for earned medical benefits as well, which had been illegally denied simply because they were deported. Barajas has applied for U.S. Citizenship as well and a decision by the U.S. government is expected in less than two months.
Daniel Torres, a deported U.S. Marine Veteran became a U.S. Citizen in April 2016 and was the first deported Veteran to get citizenship with the help of Barajas, the ACLU-CA and other lawfirms through the advocacy of the DVSH.
Only upon death, the bodies of deported Veterans can be brought back to be buried in the U.S. with a military honor guard.