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

July 09, 2014 (1 min read)

"An obscure provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") 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. Paterson broke this trend to establish a pardon panel specifically to consider applications from immigrants.

This article argues that Governor Paterson's resolute and courageous example, though ephemeral, 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 wrongdoing and is disproportionate to their well-established character." - Prof. Stacy Caplow, 22 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 293, Summer 2013.

- Prof. Stacy Caplow