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

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

"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