News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, FRI. Jan. 31, 2020: A Caribbean immigrant facing deportation from the US following his release on parole after 25 years in jail on a murder rap has received a pardon from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Colin Absolam, a Jamaican immigrant, according to The Marshall Project, was pardoned this week by the governor after his lawyers petitioned Cuomo’s office, arguing that he had already served 25 years for murder, earned parole, and would be sent to a country he left as a child and separated from family members living in New York.
The pardon also follows an op-ed article in The New York Times this week that called on Cuomo to pardon the Jamaican. The Democratic governor has pardoned a number of noncitizens who were facing deportation for criminal convictions.
”Our justice system is based on the concepts of redemption and rehabilitation,” said Richard Azzopardi, senior advisor to the governor. “Mr. Abraham served his time and was eligible to re-enter society. A federal government carrying out a politicized deportation policy is not acting in the interest of justice.”
Absolam, also known as Tyrone Abraham, according to his lawyer, however, remains in US ICE custody.
Absolam, according to the Marshall Project, moved to the Bronx from St. Mary, Jamaica when he was 11 years old. He dropped out of high school and started selling drugs to help support his pregnant girlfriend. In 1992, when he was 19, he shot and killed a man who he describes as an older, rival drug dealer during a fight and was sentenced to 25 years to life.
While in Sing Sing Correctional Facility where he spent most of his sentence, he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree, became involved in educational and anti-violence programs and ran an AIDS counselling program that serves hundreds of clients a year.
Because he committed an aggravated felony, he was automatically set for deportation upon release from prison.
After receiving parole last June, Absolam was taken to an immigrant detention facility near Buffalo, N.Y. With the help of The Defenders Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law, he filed a formal petition in November 2019.
Absolam, 46, was shackled and in line to be put on a plane at 4 a.m. Thursday but persuaded ICE officials in Louisiana, where he had been sent for deportation, to check that he had been issued a pardon, said Pierina Reyes, a student at CUNY School of Law who worked with Professor Steven Zeidman on the case.
His lawyers have filed for a stay of deportation, but now a judge must vacate the removal order.
Zeidman said they hope Absolam will be returned to New York in a few days.