January 5, 2019

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v24): Cuomo Pardons

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times photo
The government shutdown, allegedly over border security, is looking more and more like it's about testosterone and backbone more than anything else.

We're hearing of foul-mouthed outbursts, and concerns of a certain someone "looking silly" if he were to back down on his demands, and of course we know that the Senate doesn't care what anyone says, they're not doing their job no matter what. 

The president is spending an inordinate amount of time in the White House, instead of in Florida, which is saving us millions of dollars, so I guess we should be happy that he's contributing in a positive way to the situation.

Meanwhile, back in Albany, 2018 came to a close with NY's Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo issued pardons and sentence commutations to 29 people, 22 of whom are immigrants. And he did it with a dig at the president:
While president Trump shuts down the federal government over his obsessions with keeping immigrants out, New York stands strong in our support for immigrant communities. These actions will help keep immigrant families together and take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York.
So, who benefited from this, the fifth occurrence of Cuomo protecting immigrants in this fashion?

The majority of them were arrested for drug offenses, some of which date back over 30 years. Here's some info on the group:
  • The youngest is 33, the oldest 75. 
  • On average, they have lived crime-free lives for 19 years.
  • Six came from the Dominican Republic, five from Jamaica, and one each from Haiti, Israel, Iraq, the United Kingdom, Trinidad, El Salvador, Cuba, Columbia, and Mexico. The press release did not include the country of origin for the others. 
  • Several of them are gainfully employed, either in NY or in another state; most have volunteered in their communities, or are active in their faith communities; some own their own businesses. One of them had three children who served in the military.
Nothing in the information provided by the governor's office indicates that these folks were illegal immigrants; only a handful of them are currently facing deportation; for the most part, the pardons are to reduce the risk of that happening, or to allow for green card renewal, naturalization, or adjusted immigration status. 

In general then, they're the kind of people we'd like to see pardoned in New York: nonviolent offenders, small time folks, who paid their debt to society and went on to contribute in their communities. And under the circumstances, I think I'm OK with the pardons.

That said, I'm sure there are an equal number of non-immigrant, nonviolent drug offenders who are now upstanding citizens, volunteering in their communities, working and raising children and going to church and sending their kids off to the military, who have been living clean lives for decades, too.

And while I understand that Cuomo is trying to make a point by doing this, the real point is there are countless numbers of New Yorkers who are just as deserving of pardons as these folks. Sure, they're not facing the possibility of deportation, but they're facing the problems associated with having a record, whether it be in their careers, or in getting credit, or what have you. 

Shouldn't we make sure that they, too, have the opportunity for a clean slate? And if not, why not? 

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