Deported Army veteran from Chicago celebrates Thanksgiving at home after becoming US citizen

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An Army veteran from Chicago who was deported to Mexico is giving thanks to be back home, not just for Thanksgiving but for good.

Miguel Perez Jr. is celebrating the holiday as a U.S. citizen after a difficult battle to reunite with his family.

RELATED: Deported Illinois Army veteran officially becomes US citizen, allowed to stay in Chicago

Perez's place at the family table has been empty for more than a decade.

Perez served in 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 incarcerated on drug charges.

His green card status was revoked and he went from state prison into the custody of immigration officials.

"Last year, I spent Thanksgiving alone in a small apartment in Tijuana," Perez said.

Two months ago, Perez was sworn in as an American citizen after receiving a pardon from Gov. JB Pritzker.

"Today is a good day," said Sandra Marshall, Perez's sister. "Very happy day for all of us."

The only thing that could make Perez's Thanksgiving at home with family in Chicago a little more special was a Bears win.

"It feels great," he said. "What a joy."
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