A reporter's misleading tweet went viral this week, spreading the false implication that President Donald Trump was deporting an innocent veteran.
Spencer Woodman, a reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, received more than 35,000 retweets when he shared the story of Miguel Perez, who he framed as "a U.S. army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and has two U.S. citizen children."
ICE has arrested a U.S. army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and has two U.S. citizen children. His name is Miguel Perez Jr. and he has lived in the U.S. since he was 8 years old https://t.co/xheimPemlO
— Spencer Woodman (@spencerwoodman) February 1, 2018
Twitter users–including several Democratic politicians–were outraged at the story of Perez's impending deportation.
There are no words https://t.co/sW627l7hYk
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) February 2, 2018
A devastating blow to MS-13, no doubt. https://t.co/7jCrBI2oYr
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 2, 2018
Patriotism, sacrifice, and courage are being met with deportation. Republicans are intentionally not solving this problem to get leverage to reduce the number of legal immigrants coming to the USA. We reject the premise of this immoral game. People are not leverage. https://t.co/S6mkAYiKTn
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 2, 2018
Two words that should never be uttered together in this country are "deported veteran." @RealDonaldTrump, this is a disgusting way to treat a #veteran who selflessly put his life on the line to defend us. This is a disgrace. https://t.co/narcgn6ODc
— House Veterans' Affairs Dems (@VetAffairsDems) February 2, 2018
But Woodman's tweet left off why the undocumented Perez was arrested: he was caught delivering cocaine to an undercover cop.
Perez was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he "handed a laptop case containing cocaine to an undercover officer" in 2008, according to the Chicago Tribune story Woodman linked to. Perez pleaded guilty to delivering less than 100 grams of cocaine, despite having been found with much more. He ultimately served half of that 15-year sentence.
"Prosecutors also pointed out that Perez was given a general discharge from the military after a drug infraction," the Tribune reports.
The majority of those sharing the tweet also understandably interpreted Woodman's claim that ICE "has arrested" Perez to mean the arrest had occurred recently under Trump.
This is how @RealDonaldTrump treats military combat veterans. A four time draft dodger wants to deport a man who gave his heart and soul for this country. Military members and veterans everywhere we must stand up and fight for our fellow brother in arms. https://t.co/2w99HHj6u2
— Brandon Neely (@BrandonTXNeely) February 1, 2018
Another painful example of the destructive immigration policies of the Trump Administration. We must fix this broken system. Miguel Perez Jr. is a patriot and doesn’t deserve this. It is a disgrace. https://t.co/BAN0s1raJq
— Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) February 2, 2018
For anyone who thinks this Trump Administration is patriotic. https://t.co/Wg2F0SA5pE
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) February 2, 2018
But Perez was actually targeted for deportation and transferred to an ICE facility back in 2016 when President Barack Obama was still in office.
"Perez said he discovered the citizenship oversight when he was summoned to immigration court shortly before his September 2016 release from Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg," reported the Tribune. "Instead of heading home to Chicago from prison, Perez was placed in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and transferred to a Wisconsin detention center for immigrants awaiting deportation."
Among those on Twitter denouncing the Obama-era deportation order was former Obama staffer Jon Favreau.
This hero with 2 kids volunteered to risk his life for our country, came back with PTSD, a brain injury, and a substance abuse issue, and now our government is telling him he's not an American and needs to leave? Is that what we want? https://t.co/FVLIiMWJIK
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) February 2, 2018