Cuomo pardons Jax Hts. 9/11 cleanup worker removing grounds for deportation

By Bill Parry

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a pardon to a Jackson Heights man who was one of nearly 41,300 who were taken into custody by ICE agents during the first 100 days of the Trump administration. Carlos Humberto Cardona, 48, was detained in February and is awaiting deportation to his native Colombia in a New Jersey facility.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop deportation efforts against his constituent because he aided in the cleanup of the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and has developed serious medical issues from his work on the pile.

“Deporting Mr. Cardona would send a chilling message not just to the immigrants who call our country home, but to all who would help them when their country calls on them,” Crowley wrote to DHS Secretary John Kelly Tuesday. “This is not what the United States represents.”

Cuomo called Cardona a “civic-minded New Yorker” who worked as a clean-up and hazmat recovery worker, removing hazardous material from the pile for four months and now suffers from acute respiratory issues, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Without receiving clemency, Cardona’s health issues would not be adequately addressed in Colombia.

The governor granted a pardon to Cardona for his 1990 conviction of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance as a 21-year-old in Queens. Now Cardona and his attorney Rajesh Barua will be able to reopen the Final Order of Removal showing that the grounds for deportation are no longer valid.

“In the more than 30 years since Carlos Cardona has lived in this country, he has built a family and given back to his community, including in the aftermath of 9/11 when he assisted with Ground Zero recovery efforts at the expense of his own health,” Cuomo said. “It is my hope this action will not only reunite Mr. Cardona with his wife and daughter, but also send a message about the values of fairness and equality that New York was founded upon.”

Cardona married an American citizen who was also a Ground Zero recovery worker. Cardona’s 19-year-old daughter is currently in college working toward earning a degree to teach elementary students.

Meanwhile, Crowley is drafting legislation to ensure that each and every 9/11 cleanup worker is able to continue living and receiving medical treatment in the United States free from deportation.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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