As readers of our Kentucky immigration blog know, there are three ways in which to be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. The first is to have permanent resident status and live in the U.S. for at least five years. The second: be married to a U.S. citizen, have permanent resident status and live in the U.S. at least three years. The third way is to be a permanent resident and have served in the U.S. military.
We read recently of a Viet Nam veteran who was deported and died in exile after being denied treatment at the VA. He is now in the U.S., however, buried with full military honors at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.
In the same news article, another veteran’s story was told. Miguel Perez Jr. came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 8 and has lived in Chicago for nearly 30 years now. His teenage children are U.S. citizens.
But he served in more than the military: he served a 7-year sentence in prison for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer.
Late last month, an immigration judge ordered him deported back to Mexico.
Has he paid a price for his crime? Yes. He has also paid a price that many believe should earn him citizenship. He enlisted in 2001 and served two tours in Iraq, where he was wounded. His traumatic brain injury is coupled with a diagnosis of PTSD.
Multiple studies have shown that PTSD and traumatic brain injuries often result in substance abuse issues and nonviolent crime.
The fight for citizenship goes on for this veteran.
The struggle can be difficult and the legal process of naturalization can be complex, but with the help of an experienced Louisville immigration attorney the American dream is still possible to attain.