(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Albany, New York) The Fortune Society and Immigrant Defense Project were joined today in the State Capitol by State Senator Jessica Ramos and State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz at a rally to urge Governor Cuomo to exercise his pardon power and grant clemency to more New Yorkers facing deportation and permanent separation from their families due to past criminal convictions. In doing so, the Governor would continue his record of defending immigrant communities, protecting family unity, and upholding New York as a state that celebrates diversity and inclusion.
Also on hand at the event were immigrants and their families, as well as former pardon recipients and people seeking clemency who shared their personal stories on the impact a pardon and threat of deportation had on their lives.
JoAnne Page, President and CEO of The Fortune Society said, “Each day, noncitizens with justice involvement are forced to live in fear of harsh federal immigration policy that deports people without any consideration for the kind of life a person has established or the way a person contributes to the community – tearing them away from the people they love, the life they’ve built, and the country they call home. We urge Governor Cuomo to use his unique power – as he has done in the past – to grant clemency to even more vulnerable immigrant New Yorkers to protect them from deportation and to give them a pathway to citizenship.”
Page noted that since taking office, Governor Cuomo has issued 59 immigration-related pardons, including 19 in 2017 and 31 last year.
“We commend the Governor for increasing the number of pardons he’s issued to deserving immigrants and hope that this trend continues in 2019,” she said.
For immigrants who face deportation because of a past offense, a pardon may be their only protection from exile. A gubernatorial pardon for any type of conviction could help a noncitizen in a variety of ways. In some cases, a full and unconditional pardon can eliminate the grounds for deportation completely and eliminate the permanent bar to citizenship. For those who face mandatory deportation and have a conviction that cannot be fully waived by a pardon for immigration purposes, a pardon could create the possibility of eligibility for immigration relief.
Assemblymember Cruz said, “I implore Governor Cuomo to continue to utilize his pardoning power to keep families together and give clemency to New Yorkers facing deportation and separation from their families due to past criminal convictions. I call on the Governor to protect these vulnerable New Yorkers in response to the war Trump has declared on our immigrant communities. These individuals and their families need us now more than ever to correct the injustices of the current presidential administration.”
Senator Ramos added, “Many of New York’s immigrants who would benefit from pardons are victims, not perpetrators, of a criminal justice system that was designed to incarcerate them and today we are asking Governor Cuomo to support us. Many of my neighbors fall victim to this system, and I urge the Governor to hear and recognize their stories.”
About The Fortune Society: Founded in 1967, The Fortune Society (Fortune) started when David Rothenberg and passionate formerly incarcerated advocates began speaking out to shape public perception and policy. Guided by people with justice involvement, Fortune expanded its reach beyond community education and advocacy to provide comprehensive reentry services. With over 50 years’ experience, Fortune is now one of the nation’s leading innovators in advocacy and public policy, while providing holistic and expanding services to over 7,000 people annually. The David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy at Fortune works to build equitable legal systems and alternative approaches to justice, change counterproductive laws and policies, advance effective program models, and shift public perception. Visit fortunesociety.org and follow @thefortunesoc.
About the Immigrant Defense Project: The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) is a New York-based nonprofit that works to secure fairness and justice for immigrants in the racially-biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems. IDP fights to end the current era of unprecedented mass criminalization, detention and deportation through a multi-pronged strategy including advocacy, litigation, legal support, community partnerships, and strategic communications. Visit https://immigrantpardonproject.com/ and follow @ImmDefense.
The Fortune Society
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Immigrant Defense Project
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