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(CNN) - Chicago Army veteran Miguel Pérez of Chicago lost his green card due to a conviction for a drug offense. Despite his military service and having relatives who are US citizens, his application for citizenship was denied and he was deported to Mexico last year.
MIRA: Miguel Pérez, a US war veteran, is rejected retroactive citizenship.
He still has hope and this Wednesday he will have one more opportunity to move towards US citizenship.
Perez and his lawyer plan to meet with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) in Chicago and will present a case that includes the governor of Illinois, who recently granted him the pardon.
On Tuesday, a day after returning from Mexico for the hearing, Pérez said he really needs to stay in Chicago, where he lived for years before going to prison for a cocaine distribution sentence. He lost his status as a permanent legal resident due to the conviction.
“I have faith in God that I will be able to stay at home. I have to stay at home. I can't go back (to Mexico), ”he told reporters.
It's too dangerous in Mexico, said Perez, who is just over 40 years old. There are death threats. And he said he had no access to the medical treatment he needs for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sometimes he didn't sleep for three or four days, he told CNN.
“You start to shake. You start hearing voices. (And) you are already in a dangerous place, ”he said.
Perez said the stress of two deployments in Afghanistan, one in 2002 and the other in 2003, caused PTSD, which led to his drug addiction and finally his conviction for delivering more than two pounds of cocaine to an agent. undercover in 2008. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2010.
LEE: What is the migratory future of Miguel Pérez Jr, the veteran on the verge of deportation?
The governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, granted Pérez leniency last month for his drug conviction and said Perez's military service should have given him an "accelerated path to citizenship" under an executive order from President George W. Bush , "But due to supervision, he was not given that opportunity."
Perez thought he had become a citizen when he joined the Army, his lawyer said.
Pérez received a probation measure of 14 days to come to the United States to present a case to become a citizen. He told reporters that he does not belong to Mexico, a country he left when he was 8 years old and his father came to the United States to play football.
In Mexico, "I couldn't leave home because (I) was facing different situations," he said. "It's a place where I don't want anyone to be, especially if you're not from there."
Perez said Chicago is where it is from. It is a dream to be at home, he said. He was grateful to the governor and border protection officials who allowed him the two-week window to come to the United States.
"Thanks to those miracles, I'm here with my family," he told CNN.
When he crossed to the United States from Mexico on Monday, he made it covered with the American flag and told CNN that it was because that is the flag he is loyal to and will continue to defend it. He said he feels no anger or betrayal for his deportation, only that he was the victim of a messy system.
His argument for staying depends on the forgiveness of the crime by the governor through clemency.
“We believe that Miguel is eligible for naturalization because the criminal conviction does not make him ineligible for 'bad moral character'. That is the term they use, ”Pérez's lawyer, Chris Bergin, told reporters in Laredo, Texas on Monday.
"That's what we're going to discuss and I think it's a good argument," Bergin said.
Bergin told CNN that he hopes the citizenship decision will come soon, maybe even this Wednesday. If the decision takes more than two weeks, Perez will have to return to Mexico, but he could also request an extension of probation, Bergin said.
Perez said he doesn't even want to think about being rejected again.
"I have high hopes of being able to stay here," he told CNN.
One of his supporters is US Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who served in Iraq with the Illinois Army National Guard.
“I wish Miguel the best of luck. It will be a proud day for our country when we can call Miguel an American compatriot, ”he said
Pérez's parents, two sisters and two children are US citizens. He has not seen his son in 10 years. He could only see his daughter while in prison and in ICE custody after that. There was no contact. There were no hugs. That will change.
"They mean the world to me and I can't be there ... Now I can do it," he said.
Maria Santana, of CNN, reported from Chicago and Steve Almasy reported from Atlanta. Darran Simon and Nicole Chavez of CNN contributed to this report.