Governor Paterson announced today that the state will help to prevent legal immigrants from being deported by accelerating the consideration and granting of pardons for their old or minor criminal convictions. This puts the governor at odds with federal immigration officials, who have “taken more aggressive action” in recent years to increase the number of deportations. Immigration lawyers called Paterson’s move “extraordinary,” according to the Times.
“Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Paterson said in a speech today. “In New York we believe in renewal … In New York, we believe in rehabilitation.”
Paterson has constructed a special five-member panel that will review cases, and the administration expects hundreds of new pardon applications to come through by the end of the year. He said this was in the works before the recent Arizona immigration law.