“Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Mr. Paterson said in a speech on Monday at an annual gathering of the state’s top judges. “In New York we believe in renewal,” he added. “In New York, we believe in rehabilitation.”Let's get something straight. The people who are illegal aliens are already breaking the law by the very act of being in the country without proper paperwork. Paterson now wants to provide the means for these people to stay in the country even if they've been found guilty of other criminal acts, claiming that the federal immigration law is too harsh.
Mr. Paterson is establishing a special five-member state panel to review the cases; while few such cases are currently pending, the administration expects an influx of hundreds of new pardon applications by the end of the year.
The move thrusts the governor into the middle of the country’s immigration debate and could give new hope to legal immigrants facing deportation.
Mr. Paterson said the new policy was in the works weeks before Arizona enacted a law late last month to give the police there broad authority to question people about their immigration status. It was spurred in part by his pardon in March of Qing Hong Wu, a 29-year-old information technology executive who The New York Times reported had been threatened with deportation because he participated in a series of muggings as a 15-year-old. He had not lived in his native China since he was 5.
“We just feel that some of these charges are very minor in nature and some of these conversations go back beyond a decade for people who’ve demonstrated that they’ve lived productive lives in the interim,” Mr. Paterson said. “We’re separating these cases from ones where there are egregious crimes.”
Paterson appears to be staking out ground that is diametrically opposite to that found in the Arizona immigration debate, which many people think is too harsh and opens the door to profiling. Paterson wants to let people who are convicted of other crimes to stay in the US despite being subject to proper deportation under federal law.
Moreover, it appears that Gov. Paterson's proposals are clearly preempted by federal law, which takes precedents. For the same reasons that many people think that the Arizona law could be struck down for impinging on federal supremacy in the area of immigration (even though the federal government has abdicated or loosely enforced those laws), the New York proposal actually crosses that line and then some.
The governor should really stick to trying to get the month-late budget passed instead of trying to insert himself into the immigration debate with an asinine proposal.