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Lawful Permanent Residents Get Second Chance

January 2, 2011

First Immigration Pardon Panel Established For Minor Convictions

When it comes to deportation defense, immigrants need as many allies as possible.  Governor David Paterson of New York was one such ally.   

In December, prior to leaving office, Person pardoned 33 immigrants.  The immigrants pardoned were lawful permanent residents who had been convicted of minor crimes several years ago.   

Without the pardons, most of them faced nearly automatic removal from the United States.  

New York Creates The Nations’s First Immigration Pardon Panel

Following the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), the concept of rehabilitation disappeared from immigration law for thousands of lawful permanent residents.   

Despite long standing family ties and positive community contributions, since IIRAIA, many immigrants with minor criminal convictions have not been allowed to show they deserver a second chance.         

To partially counter such immigration rigidity, Paterson created the nation’s first Immigration Pardon Panel in May 2010.  

As he announced a set of pardons just before Christmas, Paterson stated, “That our federal government does not credit rehabilitation, nor account for human suffering is antithetical to the ideals this country represents.”  

“With these pardons, I have selected cases that exemplify the values of New York State and any civilized society: atonement, forgiveness, compassion, and the need to achieve justice, and not simply strict adherence to unjust statutes. I will not turn my back on New Yorkers who enrich our lives and care for those who suffer.”  

Why Pardon Panels Are Crucial To Deportation Defense

While casual observers may feel the number pardons is small, the potential impact of Paterson’s actions could be enormous.   

Being an Escondido immigration attorney, I hope pardon panels are created in other states across this nation.  The sooner, the better.   

Pardon panels could help stem the tide of callous deportation and removal laws until Congress finds the courage to pass more rational immigration policies.      

During the past decade, as explained in Governor Pardons: A New Defense In Defense And Removal, over 60,000 LPRs who had lived here more than 10 years were deported due to minor crimes.  Most of them had families, including 88,000 U.S. citizen children.    

While in office, Paterson understood the immigration system better than most of his political colleagues.  

Speaking about the pardoned individuals, Paterson stressed, “”They have paid their debt to society.”  

He added, “They have benefited their family, have been good neighbors in their community and would otherwise be enterprising citizens . . . “  

Thank you, Governor Paterson, for setting a trend for other states to follow.
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By , Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics

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