Today's New York Times featured an article revealing that New York Governor David Paterson is establishing a state panel to review pardon applications for legal immigrants who may face deportation because they were convicted of minor crimes in the distant past.
Governor Paterson, in a speech to judges, called some of our immigration laws "embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible". He stated that "in New York, we believe in rehabilitation."
Does this mean that New York is following Arizona's lead in usurping what is the responsibility of the federal government? Just the opposite. Federal immigration laws, at 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(vi), specifically provide that certain classes of persons who would otherwise be subject to removal from the U.S. because of criminal convictions are automatically granted a waiver of removal "in the case of an alien with respect to a criminal conviction if the alien subsequent to the criminal conviction has been granted a full and unconditional pardon by the President of the United States or by the Governor of any of the several States."
In reality, Governor Paterson is simply exercising his authority to pardon persons who were convicted of criminal offenses, and in doing so, federal law prohibits the USCIS from deporting the person.
In a previous blog post, we have written about the unrealistic and inhumane portions of the immigration law that if applied to any of the past three Presidents of the United States would result in them being deported.
The result would be that fewer lawful permanent residents would face deportation and separation from their families based on minor convictions which occurred many years ago.