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Deported Army Vet Miguel Perez, Jr. Awaits A Decision On Gaining Citizenship

By Yolanda Perdomo, CBS Digital Producer

CHICAGO (CBS) --  For now, no news is good news in the ongoing saga of deported U.S. Army veteran Miguel Perez, Jr. and his quest for citizenship.

On Wednesday, at a hearing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Perez was not given a decision on whether he can appeal his original denial of citizenship. Perez and his attorney Chris Bergin were told that a decision could be made within the next 30-60 days.

Bergin said it's possible they'll hear back from the USCIS before then.

Perez's citizenship application was denied because of a 2010 drug conviction. Perez served 7 ½ years in prison for the crime and was deported to Mexico in 2018.

"I'm very hopeful," said Bergin. "They had much of the documentation that we submitted. I handed them the pardon (given by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in August.) We believer this will be quick decision. They're going to look over everything, but the case is not going to be put back in a normal queue. But they're actually going to look at it pretty quickly and we should anticipate a pretty quick decision."

Perez was granted a temporary stay that ends in 14 days. Bergin said they're working on plans to keep him in the U.S. if the decision isn't made in two weeks.

"We may have a way to extend his stay if we're waiting on a decision. We're researching that right now," Bergin said.

Flanked by his parents, pastor and other supporters, Perez arrived from Mexico to the U.S. earlier this week for the hearing.  Perez admitted he was disappointed with the non-decision but remained hopeful.

"I'm a little upset, let down, that a decision wasn't made today but just got to wait a little bit longer," Perez said.

During the next 14 days, Perez said he will spend time with his parents and two children, who are all U.S. citizens. He won't just be spending time with his family. He's going to advocate for others in his circumstances.

His pastor Emma Lozano, who has been involved in Perez's fight for citizenship for more than three years, said that he will be in Washington D.C. Thursday with the League of United Latin American Citizens Latino (LULAC) to lobby lawmakers about the plight of deported veterans.

"There have been a number of bills proposed in Congress in order to stop the deportation of our green card veterans. So that when they take the oath into the military to fight for this country that they're given automatic citizenship," Lozano said.

Perez said he saw his 22-year-old daughter when he arrived and hoped to see his 12-year-old son sometime on Wednesday.

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