Governor Paterson announced, Monday (May 3, 2010) that the State of New York would establish a panel, with the authority to accelerate consideration and grant pardons to legal residents, whose prior criminal convictions could now result in possible deportation.
The initiative, which immigration officials on both sides called “extraordinary,” sets the stage for a confrontation between Governor Paterson and Federal immigration officials.
It calls for the establishment of a five member Immigration Board of Pardons to review each case, on an individual basis, giving hope to the many who are currently facing orders of deportation and opens the door to potentially, thousands of others.
Deportation in New York State can only be prevented by a Pardon from the Governor.
Inspired in part by the recent case of Qing Hong Wu, the Governor disclosed that the policy change was being considered even before the new controversy, over recent immigration law passed, in Arizona. Mr. Wu, a hardworking IT Executive, who having left China at the age of five, suddenly found himself facing deportation for a series of minor crimes committed as a teenager. Immigration officials were alerted to his conviction, after his recent application to naturalize as a U.S. citizen.
The new measure highlights the severity of tougher immigration measures and their effect upon the lives of legal permanent residents. Immigration officials have pursued a more aggressive stance towards deportation and have begun to detain permanent residents at the border when they seek to renter the U.S.
Many legal immigrants are now afraid to either travel or apply for citizenship for fear that they may be detained or deported for a prior criminal conviction.