Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a pardon to Harveys Gomez, an immigrant facing deportation at an immigration hearing today. Gomez, a 39 year old Bronx resident, was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance nearly a decade ago and despite having completed probation, he has been in ICE custody since October of last year facing the threat of deportation. Harveys Gomez originally came to the United States when he was eight years old, over 30 years ago. He is openly gay, HIV positive, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and has no family in the Dominican Republic who would be able to support him if deported. This is the fourth time Governor Cuomo has used his pardon authority to protect individuals facing potential deportation, including most recently in July where he issued pardons to seven other individuals.
"Harveys Gomez has paid his debt to society for a crime committed nearly a decade ago and poses no threat to society. America is his home -- he has a family here, works here and has lived here for over 30 years," Governor Cuomo said. "New York will always fight to protect the immigrant community from the federal government's targeted attacks on our values. We will not stand by as President Trump wages a war against everything we stand for."
This pardon is the latest action Governor Cuomo has taken to support the immigrant community and defend immigrants against federal attacks. Since taking office, the Governor has issued 34 immigration-related pardons. In 2011, he signed a wide-reaching Executive Order to ensure language access across state agencies, suspended the State's participation in a federal program that required local law enforcement to help identify deportable individuals, signed legislation holding entities that defraud immigrants accountable, and established the Office for New Americans. He launched NaturalizeNY, the first public-private partnership of its kind to encourage and assist eligible immigrants in New York State with becoming U.S. citizens.
In 2017, Governor Cuomo launched the Liberty Defense Project, a State-led, public-private legal defense program to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of status, have access to high quality legal counsel. In partnership with leading nonprofit legal service providers, the project has significantly expanded the availability of immigration attorneys statewide. The FY 2019 Budget includes an additional $10 million investment to ensure the Liberty Defense Project continues to sustain and grow the network of legal service providers providing these critical services in defense of our immigrant communities.
In June, Governor Cuomo announced a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's policy of forced family separation on the U.S. southern border. To protect immigrants from overly aggressive deportation tactics increasingly utilized by ICE, the Governor issued executive orders to prohibit ICE arrests in state facilities without a warrant, prohibit state agencies and officers from inquiring about individual's immigration status unless required by law or necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service or disclosing information to federal immigration authorities for the purpose of civil enforcement.
Individuals interested in applying for clemency should visit Governor Cuomo's clemency website - http://www.ny.gov/clemency. The website is a central resource for those seeking to learn more about clemency, eligibility requirements, and the application process, including submitting application materials electronically. Family members and friends of individuals serving prison sentences are encouraged to visit the website and apply for clemency on behalf of their family member or friend, or to send in support letters for loved ones who have applied themselves.
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