Governors! Seize the Law: A Call to Expand the Use of Pardons to Provide Relief from Deportation

42 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2012 Last revised: 17 Oct 2012

Stacy Caplow

Brooklyn Law School

Date Written: September 18, 2012

Abstract

An obscure provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows an immigrant convicted of a wide range of crimes that are grounds for deportation to avoid this fate if pardoned by a chief executive. In the current era of expansion of the categories of crimes that constitute grounds for deportation and the shrinkage of equitable forms of relief, a pardon presents a vehicle for ameliorating these harsh effects. But few presidents or governors take advantage of this opportunity, even when the individual facing deportation is a long-term lawful resident whose transgression occurred long ago. During a few months in 2010, New York Governor David A. Patterson broke this trend to establish a pardon panel specifically to consider applications from immigrants.

This article argues that Governor Patterson's resolute and courageous, but ephemeral example presents a model for governors in all states to exercise discretion on behalf of individuals who deserve the exercise of mercy and justice that a full and unconditional pardon confers, particularly when the permanent exile they face far exceeds their wronging and is disproportionate to their well-established character.

Keywords: immigration, state government, collateral consequences, criminal law

Suggested Citation

Caplow, Stacy, Governors! Seize the Law: A Call to Expand the Use of Pardons to Provide Relief from Deportation (September 18, 2012). Boston University Public Interest Law Journal (Forthcoming); Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 306. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2148405

Stacy Caplow (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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