New York Gov. David Paterson announced pardons for six immigrants facing deportation because of old criminal convictions, reports the New York Times. The governor said the pardons addressed “shortcomings in our federal immigration laws relating to deportation.” Paterson began a special clemency process last spring to help permanent legal residents – green card holders – who were at risk of deportation because of long-ago or minor convictions.
“Federal immigration laws,” he said, “are often inflexible, arbitrarily applied and excessively harsh, resulting in the deportation of individuals who have paid the price for their crimes and are now making positive contributions to our society. These pardons represent an attempt to achieve fairness and justice.” An advisory pardon panel has been sifting through about 1,100 petitions for clemency, referring promising cases to the governor's Executive Clemency Committee. Paterson may issue more pardons before his term ends this month.