News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. July 25, 2018: Six Caribbean immigrants with minor criminal convictions that could have gotten them deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, have been pardoned by a U.S. governor.
New York Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, issued the pardons on July 23rd. This is the third time the New York governor has used his pardon authority to protect individuals facing potential deportation.
The Caribbean immigrants pardoned are:
Tamar Samuda, 35, a Jamaican immigrant, was facing deportation as a result of convictions from 17 years ago that included convictions for low-level assault and petty larceny. She was detained by ICE after travelling to her homeland for a family funeral as a result of the convictions. This, despite the fact that Samuda has a GED and completed medical assistant training since her minor crimes. She currently works in home health care and doctors’ offices and is a single mother of three school-aged children. The Jamaican immigrant was also cleared to work as an aide in New York City public school special education, but immigration detention prevented her from doing so. She was released on immigration parole in February 2018 and was fighting deportation.
Carlos Suarez, 41, is from the Dominican Republic and was told he was ineligible for citizenship as he was about to go to his swearing-in ceremony in September 2017. This stemmed from a 2009 conviction for petty larceny. Instead of becoming a citizen, he was told to check in with ICE monthly, which he has been doing.
Frank Barker, 43, was born in Barbados and was facing deportation after being convicted of criminal possession of stolen property, controlled substances and identity theft from a short-term period of criminal activity resulting from drug addiction nine years ago. He has been crime-free since and has also been sober for eight years. Barker now works as a coordinator at an HIV/AIDS supportive housing provider in New York City, is a certified substance abuse counselor and a community advocate in the Bronx. He is the financial provider for his family including his daughter with special needs.
Elpidio Rodriguez, 57, from the Dominican Republic, could have been deported for a conviction 19 years ago for criminal possession of a controlled substance and of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. He currently works in housekeeping at New York City hospitals and serves as a caregiver and financial provider for his elderly parents, wife, three adult children and two grandchildren.
Ludames De La Cruz
Ludames De La Cruz, age 53, also from the Dominican Republic, could have been deported because of a conviction 17 years ago for attempted sale of a controlled substance. De La Cruz has, however, been crime-free since, and worked as a parking lot attendant and in food service until he was injured on the job in 2008 and became disabled.
He also has been diagnosed with PTSD from being the victim of several gunpoint robberies and is now battling cancer. If deported to the Dominican Republic, he would have no support there as his siblings and nieces and nephews extended family all live in New York City, where they visit and offer support during his illness.
Jose Rafael Cruz
Jose Rafael Cruz, age 53, who was also born in the Dominican Republic, was in ICE custody for 2 and a half years before being released in October 2017 on bond. He could have faced deportation following his conviction for criminal sale of a controlled substance seven years ago. He has been crime free since and works in the food service industry and supports his ailing father as well as the daughter of his deceased sister.
Also pardoned was Marino Soto, 43, who was born in Colombia. He was facing deportation for a conviction of criminal possession of a controlled substance that occurred 12 years ago. Soto, who has been crime free since, owns a software company in Connecticut and volunteers with humanitarian organizations.
Governor Cuomo’s office says he used his ability “to grant clemency to reward rehabilitation, reunite families, protect against deportation and help New Yorkers become fully contributing members of our society. “
“At a time when President Trump and the Federal government are waging a war on our immigrant communities, New York stands firm in our belief that our diversity is our greatest strength,” Governor Cuomo said. “While President Trump engages in policies that rip children out of the arms of their mothers and tries to ramp up the deportation of New Yorkers to advance his political agenda of hate and division, we will protect our immigrant communities. With the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, New York will always stand against the hate coming out of Washington and instead serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all.”
Since taking office, Cuomo has issued 34 pardons, 12 commutations and 140 conditional youth pardons.