Society

Bill Would Give Green Cards To Undocumented 9/11 Workers

| by Robert Fowler
Ground Zero, New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.Ground Zero, New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus plans to introduce a bill that would grant green cards to the undocumented immigrants who helped rebuild New York City following the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The legislation was prompted by the detainment of Carlos Cardona, who currently faces the prospect of deportation.

On July 7, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York announced upcoming legislation to grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants who helped clean the wreckage of Ground Zero, The Hill reports.

"Those workers provided critical services in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and suffered from exposure to airborne toxins and other hazards," Crowley's office said in an official statement. "Yet many of them still lack legal immigration options and have lived in fear of deportation from the country they served."

Crowley will introduce his legislation on July 10. If signed into law, the bill would issue green cards for up to 2,000 people. Crowley's office disclosed that none of his GOP colleagues had offered any support so far.

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The legislation appears to be inspired by the case of Cardona, a Sept. 11 volunteer who currently faces deportation.

On Feb. 28, Cardona was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at his home in Queens, New York. The undocumented immigrant, who has a criminal record stemming from two misdemeanor drug convictions in 1990, had been repeatedly detained over the decades for deportation but released due to health issues, The Washington Post reports.

Cardona has sought to attain permanent residence for years, with his latest request still pending. He had volunteered to help clean up Ground Zero and contracted respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments after inhaling fumes from the wreckage.

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Crowley submitted a letter to the Trump administration urging ICE not to deport Cardona in light of his service following Sept. 11.

"Mr.  Cardona is deserving of our thanks -- not the cold shoulder," Crowley wrote. "It is unconscionable to deport a man who responded in our country's time of need, who suffers from chronic health conditions as a result, and whose treatment and care would be severely diminished should he be deported."

On June 21, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York pardoned Cardona's two misdemeanor convictions, allowing the Sept. 11 worker to appeal his deportation order.

"It is my hope this action will not only reunite Mr. Cardona with his wife and daughter, but also send a message about the values of fairness and equality that New York was founded upon," Cuomo said.

On June 28, ICE released Cardona from custody, allowing him to live with his family as he challenges his deportation order.

"Cardona will be required to check-in periodically pending the outcome of his immigration case," ICE public affairs officer Rachael Yong Yow told The Huffington Post.

Sources: The Hill, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Slagheap/Flickr, U.S. Congress via Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

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