New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) granted clemency on Wednesday to a former worker at Ground Zero in an effort to halt the man’s deportation to Colombia, which came about as a result of President Donald Trump’s new immigration policies.
The New York Daily News said that Carlos Cardona has been detained by immigration authorities since February over a non-violent crime arrest in 1990.
Cardona came to the U.S. as an undocumented worker in 1986 at the age of 17 fleeing political instability in Colombia. His two older brothers were police officers who were murdered in drug cartel violence. He was arrested in 1990 on an attempted drug sales charge, but stayed in the U.S. and went on to start a family and settle in Queens, NY.
On Wednesday, Cuomo issued a statement that said, “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. 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.”
After the horrific attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, the immigrant construction worker went to work clearing rubble at Ground Zero, the pile of ruins where the World Trade Center once stood. His wife told the Daily News that like many 9/11 first responders and recovery workers Cardona has suffered with respiratory and digestive problems since he inhaled the fumes given off by the giant pile of rubble.
He was one of 41,300 people rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers after the inauguration of Pres. Trump in January.