NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to 21 people on Christmas Eve, helping many of them with immigration issues stay in the United States.
The people who were granted clemency had demonstrated remorse, rehabilitation and commitment to their communities, Cuomo said.
“Those receiving pardons have, for years, demonstrated they are strong functioning members of their community and deserving of a clean slate that will allow them to escape the stigma of a long-ago conviction,” he said. “Those receiving sentence commutations have undergone a successful rehabilitation, demonstrated true remorse their actions and shown themselves to be worthy of a chance to re-enter society.”
One of the pardoned women, 43-year-old Kaydian McKenzie, is a nurse, officials said. She’s worked at a nursing home through the pandemic. The pardon will help the mom of three, who’s been crime free for 18 years, stay in the United States with her family.
She’s not the only one whose immigration status could be impacted; many of the other New Yorkers who were pardoned were at risk of deportation.
Rosario Pena, 61, was forced to commit petit larceny and robbery by sex traffickers decades ago. She’s lived in the US for more than 50 years and the last 34 have been crime free. She escaped her traffickers in 1986, according to the Legal Aid Society.
Pena has lived in New York City since she was a child, Legal Aid Society lawyer Ted Hausman said.
“Rosario Pena’s convictions were the direct result of her having been a victim of human trafficking, and no one is more deserving of relief than she is,” Hausman said.
Other pardoned individuals are:
- Alejandro Padilla, 57
- Rosa Sosa Vega, 59
- Harrison Redd, 67
- Salvador Sabino Jimenez, 63
- Natasha Joseph, 34
- Victor Medina, 53
- Edouard Connor, 52
- Zouhair Mouflih, 43
- Jolanta Wisniewska, 58
- Rafael Hernandez, 50
- Thomas Cabrera, 52
- Rosemarie Robinson, 54
Cuomo also commuted sentences for Maria Ordonez, 26; Theresa Debo, 64; Arnold Raimondo, 70; Clifton Williamson, 43; Jacinto Cedeno, 55; Gus Bethea, 38 and Joseph Norman, 60.