Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, made the decision to pardon 22 immigrants to take them out of risk of deportation. Cuomo thumbed his nose at Donald Trump, saying that he and his administration supports immigrants and their families.
The Hill says that the New York governor put together a list of immigrants whose past criminal records made it likely that they would be deported. Cuomo released a statement which said that the state of New York supports immigrants.
“While President Trump shuts down the federal government over his obsession with keeping immigrants out, New York stands strong in our support for immigrant communities. These actions will help keep immigrant families together and take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York.”
The majority of immigrants on the list has been convicted in the past of drug-related crimes. Cuomo says that he also commuted the sentences of seven additional people who were currently serving time.
But this is not the first time that the New York governor has pardoned New Yorkers, including immigrants. Over the summer Cuomo pardoned eight immigrants, and in 2017, he pardoned 61 people, 18 of which were immigrants.
Cuomo explains that much of his pardoning of immigrants is in response to what he calls “a war on our immigrant communities” by the Trump administration, says the New York Times. This latest batch of pardons comes just as Cuomo is about to be sworn in for his third term as the governor for the state of New York at Ellis Island, which is a landmark and a historic point of entry for generations of immigrants who came to this country.
JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society, a nonprofit group that helps formerly incarcerated people re-enter society and regain freedom, says that Cuomo has come a long way in terms of pardons.
“It’s nice to be able to recognize improvement. These are life-changing decisions. Even a conviction for a minor offense years ago can tear someone’s life up by the roots and destroy their families.”
Steve Zeidman, a professor and director of the criminal defense clinic at the City University of New York School of Law, says that Cuomo has been a trailblazer in creating panels to find people who should be pardoned or those whose sentences should be commuted.
He adds that he can’t think of a better way to start the new year.
“It’s a good way to start the year. These are wonderful people. There are more people who will be productive on the outside.”
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