Army veteran deported after drug conviction now a citizen

CHICAGO (AP) — An Army veteran deported to Mexico in 2018 after being released from prison on a drug conviction says he has become a U.S. citizen.

A spokeswoman for Miguel Perez Jr. says he was informed he is now a U.S. citizen early Friday.

Perez Jr., who was raised in Chicago, had a green card. But after serving 7½ years for a 2008 nonviolent drug conviction, the 41-year-old was deported last year. He was granted permission last month by immigration officials to re-enter the country for another chance to become a U.S. citizen. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pardoned him in August.

Perez Jr. joined the Army before 9/11 and served with a Special Forces unit in Afghanistan. He suffered a brain injury while in the war zone.

Perez Jr. had been living in the Mexican border town of Tijuana following his deportation.