New York State will accelerate consideration and granting of pardons to legal immigrants for old or minor criminal convictions, in an effort to prevent them from being deported, the New York Times reports. The move sets up a confrontation between Gov. David Paterson and federal immigration officials, who have taken aggressive action to increase deportations in recent years. Immigration lawyers and said the change could affect thousands of people.
“Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Paterson said Monday at an annual gathering of the state's top judges. “In New York we believe in renewal,” he added. “In New York, we believe in rehabilitation.” The governor is establishing a special five-member panel to review the cases; while few such cases are currently pending, the administration expects an influx of hundreds of new pardon applications by year’s end.