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May 3, 2010

NY Gov Paterson creates special pardon panel for legal immigrants

Some helpful readers alerted me to this fascinating news out of New York's Governor's Office, as here reported by the New York Times:

In a major rebuke of federal immigration policy, Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Monday that he would create a special pardon panel to review cases involving legal immigrants who are at risk of deportation for minor or old convictions.

Mr. Paterson’s move will give many immigrants facing deportation renewed hope and places the governor into the middle of the country’s immigration debate.

The announcement comes as the federal government has taken an increasingly hard line in its interpretation of existing immigration law, leaving a growing number of legal immigrants who have criminal records facing deportation.

“Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Mr. Paterson said in a speech on Monday at an annual gathering of the state’s top judges. “In New York we believe in renewal,” he added. “In New York we believe in rehabilitation.”

State officials say they believe thousands of legal immigrants could fall into the category of cases that they are interested in reviewing.  A new five-member panel made up of existing state employees, called the Special Immigration Board of Pardons, will review the cases.

Now, only a handful of such cases are pending before the Paterson administration, but they anticipate that the creation of the panel will prompt an influx of hundreds of new petitions for pardons.

This official press release from the Governor, which is titled "Governor Paterson Creates Panel to Review Cases of Legal Immigrants Facing Deportation," provides more information about this new pardon development.  Here is a snippet from the press release:

Due to retroactive changes in federal immigration laws in the mid-1990s, there may be thousands of individuals in New York State who entered the United States legally but are now facing deportation for crimes that did not, at the time of conviction, carry the consequence of deportation. In other cases, individuals may have been unaware of the immigration consequences of guilty pleas or convictions for certain crimes.  These individuals may have had convictions many years ago, and federal immigration authorities are seeking to deport them years later when, for instance, they apply for citizenship or to renew their permanent resident status.

In many of these cases, the individual's efforts towards rehabilitation, their years of living in the community without any contact with law enforcement, and the positive contributions they have made to society are not factored into whether the individual will be deported.  In addition, they may be deported to a country they left as a child, where they have no relatives and may not speak the language, and their deportation may tear them away from their United States citizen children or spouse.  As demonstrated by several recent examples, such deportation can cause a significant injustice in particular cases, which can only be remedied by the Governor's exercise of a pardon.

May 3, 2010 at 09:17 PM | Permalink


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Yeah, there's the ticket, let's treat immigrants better than US citizens . . . .

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2010 9:24:29 PM

What a bunch of crap! There are thousands of Americans waiting and hoping for pardons and this Governor wants to create a special panel to give pardons to people who are breaking the law just for being in our country. I say impeach this bum!!

Posted by: Marine | May 3, 2010 11:46:51 PM

Good job, Gov. Paterson!

Posted by: Alex | May 4, 2010 2:38:45 AM

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.
Tax Law UK

Posted by: Tax Law UK | May 4, 2010 6:47:01 AM

You might want to actually "read" the story, Marine, or at least the title of the post.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | May 4, 2010 7:59:33 AM

The point of clemency and pardons are to eliminate the harshness of the criminal law when it is undeserved and causes unfair or unjust consequences. It seem that long time legal residents that pled to something that wasnt deportable are good candidates for pardons because of this. This isnt for illegal immigrants. Not only will these otherwise legal persons be allowed to remain here, their legal spouses, and most likely citizen children will benefit too. Hopefully this will also lead to a recognition that the pardon power needs to be used in other ways and places too.

Posted by: KRG def attny | May 5, 2010 11:23:01 AM

People need to stop being haters and selfish and recognize that these is not about a matter of who is citizen or permanent resident, better or worse, this is a matter of humane justice.
As we all know that one way or another we are all inmigrants and just because your parents got here before ours doesn't make you any better than us. We all make mistakes and we all deserve a second chance, If any one pays its dues and it is able to rehabilitate and stay out of trouble for good there is no need to cast that person away like an animal because not even animals are cast away in our society.
Now, if anyone is not able to rehabilitate or the crime is so severe, by all means get them out of here.
please understand this are legal resident and they'd pay a high price to be here, not only are human individuals who have paid their dues to society, they work just like you, pay taxes just like you, shop and contribute to our economy just like you, can go to war for this country just like you,have wives and kids just like you, and it is not right to just wack someone with such rigid law if that person has proven it has changed for the better and can be as good or better than any citizen in this country.

Posted by: franklin | May 19, 2010 3:31:30 PM

I am an immigration attorney. I now represent a 19 year old young man who, although the 4 siblings he arrived with 10 years ago from Nigeria have all had their I-485's approved and are citizens and professionals, has yet to have a decision on his I-485 after 6 years - without ever being given a reason. He then got in trouble, and now, on the advice of counsel who knew nothing and cared not at all about immigration consequences, recommended a plea that made the client an agg felon, with no way to stay here, and really no home to go back to. He has not completed his sentence but he is in removal proceedings. Is there a reason why this client would not be eligible for a governor's pardon? Where can I find the guidelines? Thank you.

Posted by: Billie Gray | Jul 27, 2010 10:16:31 PM

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