An Army veteran who was deported to Mexico is giving thanks to be back home in Chicago, not just for Thanksgiving but for good.
Miguel Perez Jr., 41, is celebrating the holiday as a U.S. citizen after a difficult battle to reunite with his family.
Perez’s place at his family table has been empty for more than a decade.
Perez joined the U.S. Army Special Forces and was deployed to Afghanistan twice in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He returned with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and he was later arrested on drug charges.
His green card status was revoked and he went from state prison into the custody of immigration officials.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement put him on a plane to Texas in 2018 and escorted Perez across the U.S.-Mexico border last spring.
“Last year, I spent Thanksgiving alone in a small apartment in Tijuana,” Perez said, according to WLS.
Two months ago, Perez was sworn in as a U.S. citizen after receiving a pardon from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The only thing that could make Perez’s Thanksgiving at home with family a little more special was a Chicago Bears win.
“It feels great. What a joy,” he said.