New York legislators have proposed legislation that would extend deportation protection to non-citizens, who served in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. The proposed legislation, known as the 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act, would grant green cards to non-citizens, who volunteered in the Ground Zero recovery efforts. If the bill is enacted, as many as 1,000 to 2,000 non-citizens could benefit.
The proposed legislation was prompted when the story of Queens resident, Carlos Cardona, came to light. Mr. Cardona, a non-citizen from Colombia, spent four days sifting through rubble at Ground Zero the attacks, when exposure to toxins caused him chronic respiratory problems that he battles even today. Despite his marriage to a U.S. citizen, Mr. Cardona lives with a drug conviction from 1990, which has prevented him from obtaining legal status. On February 28, 2017, after the Trump administration issued a memorandum to prioritize the removal of non-citizens with criminal convictions, Mr. Cardona was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the basis of Mr. Cardona’s 27-year-old conviction. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pardoned Mr. Cardona for his crime, and he was released from ICE custody on June 28.
Following the release of Mr. Cardona, New York Democratic Congress members proposed a bill to increase protection of non-citizens who volunteered at Ground Zero against deportation. Representative Joseph Crowley of Queens has announced his support for the 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act, pointing a precedential program for immigrants who served in the armed forces during World War I. However, the 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act will likely face an uphill battle in the Republican-majority Congress and the Trump administration, which has repeatedly vowed to enforce stricter immigration policies. According to The New York Times, Mr. Crowley stated that “The bill currently does not have support from any Republican members of Congress.”
If you or a loved one are concerned about deportation proceedings and removal, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced New York immigration lawyer. The New York immigration attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP have a long history of zealous, knowledgeable, and honest advocacy on behalf of immigrants. To schedule your consultation, contact our qualified New York immigration lawyers today at (212) 267-2555.