9/11 hero fighting deportation is pardoned for 1990 drug offence

Cardona volunteered to help in the recovery operation after 9/11

Carlos Humberto Cardona played a key role in the recovery operation after 9/11

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A hero of the 9/11 rescue effort who was fighting deportation has received a huge boost after being pardoned for a drug offence from 27 years ago.

Carlos Humberto Cardona told an undercover police officer that he had sold a small amount of cocaine in 1990. 

He has now been pardoned by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, after his lawyer said he had already served jail time for the offence and has committed no further crimes, US News reported.

Cardona moved to the US from Colombia in 1986 to escape gangs who were threatening his family, and got into America through Mexico illegally.

He played a crucial role as a recovery worker in the days after 9/11, after volunteering to help with the rescue operation. This challenging work later gave him respiratory problems.

Federal programs to provide medical care for those who suffered health problems after 9/11 allowed Cardona to stay in the US, as long as he regularly checked in with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

However, he was detained again this year as Donald Trump made the deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal records a priority.

Cardona then applied to New York's clemency program and Cuomo pardoned him on Wednesday (June 21).

The governor said: "In the more than 30 years since Carlos Cardona has lived in this country, he has built a family and given back to his community, including in the aftermath of 9/11 when he assisted with ground zero recovery efforts at the expense of his own health.

"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's decision does not mean Cardona can avoid deportation indefinitely. That decision will be made by immigration authorities. 

However, Cardona and his family hope his attorney can now prove the grounds for his deportation are invalid.