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Immigrant Ground Zero recovery worker who faces deportation for 1990 drug crime released from custody

Carlos Cardona, 48, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in February. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was released from custody Wednesday.

NEW YORK  — A former ground zero worker facing deportation to Colombia on the basis of a 1990 drug conviction – for which he’s since received clemency – was released from custody Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Carlos Cardona, 48, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in February. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released him just one week after his gubernatorial pardon for a non-violent crime.

He’ll be required to check-in with ICE periodically pending the outcome of his immigration case, an agency spokesperson said.

“Thank you to all who spoke out against his detainment and helped reunite Mr. Cardona with his family,” Cuomo said.

Cardona entered the U.S. illegally in 1986 as a teenager. His brother worked as a police officer in Colombia and gangs targeted Cardona’s family because of his brother’s job.

His conviction for the attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance put him in the crosshairs of ICE. The agency has ramped up their activities since President Trump took office.

Cardona spent four months as a cleanup and hazmat recovery worker rehabilitating Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His wife, an American citizen, is also a 9/11 recovery worker. Their 19-year-old daughter is in college studying to become an elementary school teacher.

“He has built a family and given back to his community,” Cuomo said.