With several states embroiled in contentious debates concerning immigration reform, New York Governor David Paterson announced May 3 his pledge to enact a measure that could prevent the deportation of thousands of legal residents who have criminal histories.
Paterson said he would create the nation’s first "pardon panel" to investigate whether legal immigrants who face deportation because of a prior conviction have been rehabilitated and can safely return to society, the Associated Press (AP) reports. The measure will certainly clash with several recently implemented federal laws that the governor has referred to as "embarrassingly wrong and inflexible."
"To be sure, there are some individuals whose crimes are egregious or who pose a threat to public safety," Paterson said. "But there are others for whom the situation is far less clear. For them, our national immigration laws leave no room to consider mitigating circumstances. But in New York, we believe in rehabilitation."
Paterson, who announced earlier in the year that he will not run for reelection in November, noted that the new measure is not a response to Arizona’s historically aggressive immigration reform act that was signed into law last week, and has been in the works for some time. The policy does not need legislative approval to be enacted, The New York Times reports.