CHICAGO (CBS CHICAGO) — He is an Army veteran and a green card holder and has served time for a felony drug conviction.

Now, the family and friends of Miguel Perez are trying to save him from being deported to Mexico and are asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to pardon him.

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They stood in front of the downtown offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and prayed for 39-year-old Perez.

Perez — a green card holder who served two tours in Afghanistan — is being held in immigration detention in Kenosha

He joined the demonstration by phone.

“The system has been killing me slowly, and now I’m facing death if I’m deported to Mexico, so I would rather die in the country I fought for than in a place that’s not my home.”

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Perez and his supporters say he would be in danger if he’s deported to Mexico.  He hasn’t lived there since he was 8.

Last week, a federal court rejected his bid to stay. Now, his supporters are trying last-ditch efforts.

Perez’s advocates say the veteran is beginning a hunger strike to draw attention to his case and those of other so-called green card veterans.

Gov. Rauner’s office says the petition is under review.

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— Steve Miller