In the midst of the fight over immigration, Gov. David Paterson today said he’s creating a panel that will help him review pardon applications of legal immigrants who can face deportation because of criminal convictions.
He said the panel will make recommendations to the governor’s office involving potential pardons based on the circumstances of each case.
Paterson said the announcement isn’t a response to the immigration fight in Arizona, but he said it does respond to the country’s need to reform its immigration policies.
“It’s a method that we are applying today that we hope in some way will set an example for how other states might consider softening the blow for people who are caught up in this web of the national immigration laws,” Paterson said.
The governor was slated to be on MSNBC this afternoon to discuss the policy and the Times Square car bomb incident. He’s also scheduled to appear on CNN’s Larry King Live tonight at 9 p.m.
Speaking at Law Day at the state Court of Appeals, Paterson cited his pardon earlier this year of Quig Hong Wu, who was about to deported after he disclosed while he was seeking citizenship that he had a criminal record for robbery as a teenager. But Paterson said the man turned his life around, and it would be unfair to deport him.
“If we think that these individuals deserve and have earned the opportunity to stay in this country and try to become citizens, we will grant those pardons,” Paterson said.