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NEW YORK — More than a dozen immigrants who faced deportation over prior convictions now have a chance of staying in the United States after they were granted pardons by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The 18 recipients of pardons were in the crosshairs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. President Donald Trump directed the agency to prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants with convictions on their records.

“These New Yorkers have proved their rehabilitation, in some cases for decades, but have been unable to gain legal status or fully reenter society due to the stigma of conviction,” Gov. Cuomo said. “While the federal government continues to target immigrants and threatens to tear families apart with deportation, these actions take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York.”

The pardon is seen as a way to challenge deportation, but won’t necessarily work. While ICE is focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, they are also deporting immigrants who don’t have them.

One recipient, Alexander Shilov, came to the U.S. as a teen. He developed a drug addiction and, while dealing with that, committed a string of misdemeanors. Shilov is now 13 years sober. He’s engaged with two infant children. Shilov also supports his mother and works as a nurse.

He isn’t the only caretaker who received a parson. Freddy Perez, 53, was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in 1993. Now he works as an electrician and cares for his autistic younger brother.

Another recipient, 57-year-old Lorena Borjas, has worked for years as an advocate for transgender and immigrant communities. She currently works as an educator at community health centers across New York City. Borjas hopes to obtain citizenship and continue her advocacy work.

This isn’t the first time Cuomo has granted pardons to immigrants. He gave clemency to an undocumented immigrant from Columbia who worked as a Ground Zero recover worker.

Cuomo also pardoned 39 people who had committed misdemeanors for non-violent crimes when they were 16 or 17 years old and have been crime free for 10 years or more. He also commuted two sentences.