Immigrant rights advocates are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to formalize and expand an immigration pardon panel established last year under former Governor David Paterson. The panel was designed to allow immigrants the opportunity to defend themselves from being deported. Since major changes in immigration laws in 1996, millions of immigrants have been deported for minor crimes and crimes they were already punished for. Mizue Aizeki heads the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
Mizue Aizeki, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights: “You’re funneling people into a system where they have no way to get out. It’s a mandatory deportation. And this is a system that needs to be examined very critically, and so we’re calling on Governor Cuomo to institute this pardon panel that would allow at least many immigrants a second chance to be like, 'Look, this is my life. I’ve rehabilitated. Would you please give me another chance?' And I think it’s important to remind people that this is basically a premise of our society: that you should not be punished doubly for something that you’ve already done your time.”