Governors! Seize the Law: A Call to Expand the Use of Pardons to Provide Relief from Deportation
Brooklyn Law School
September 18, 2012
Boston University Public Interest Law Journal (Forthcoming)
Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 306
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: immigration, state government, collateral consequences, criminal law
Date posted: September 19, 2012 ; Last revised: October 17, 2012