State Watch

Illinois governor pardons Army veteran deported to Mexico last year

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Friday pardoned an Army veteran who was deported to Mexico in March 2018.

Pritzker granted the pardon to Miguel Perez Jr., who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. legally as a child. He served two tours in Afghanistan, where he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Perez was later convicted of a nonviolent drug offense in 2008 and sentenced to 15 years behind bars. He served 7.5 years in prison and was then taken into custody by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement upon his release. He was later deported after former Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) denied a petition for clemency.

"Miguel Perez should not have been deported. The bigoted immigration policy of President Trump and failed leadership of former Governor Rauner have caused unfortunate circumstances for a U.S. veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan," Pritzker said in a statement.

"In evaluating this request for clemency, I recognize this pardon is not a perfect solution, but it is the most just action to take to allow a U.S. veteran the opportunity to be treated fairly by the country he served," he added.

Pritzker added that Perez has active VA benefits that cannot be accessed in Mexico.

Perez's family, including two children and parents, live in Illinois and are U.S. citizens. It was not immediately clear if or when Perez would return to Illinois.