ICE Wants to Deport a Man Who Worked at Ground Zero During 9/11 Recovery Efforts

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Carlos Humberto Cardona was one of over 40,000 people taken into custody by ICE agents during the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Cardona was also one of the many people who put their health and safety on the line by helping with recovery efforts following the 9/11 terror attacks.


The New York Daily News reports that Cardona is fighting deportation in a Brooklyn federal lawsuit, and for his freedom from a jail in New Jersey. Cardona’s wife, Liliana, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Cardona’s lawyers are asking for a judge to pressure the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration to verify their marriage, based on an application from 2014.

In 1990, Cardona plead guilty to an attempted drug sale, though his wife claims he was only standing nearby when the sale took place. He has no other criminal record, but a a removal order was placed on him in 2000. In April 2011, he was arrested, but released the same day on an order of supervision because of “chronic respiratory problems caused by his time as a recovery worker.” Cardona’s release was contingent on regular check-ins, and when going to one in February, he was taken into custody and jailed in Hudson County Correctional Facility.

“I can’t believe that this is happening to him after all of the sacrifices he has made. He says he feels like he’s being treated like a criminal,” Cardona’s wife Liliana told the Daily News. “He’s suffering from depression being locked up in there.

“He inhaled fumes (at the World Trade Center site). His health ended up being affected. He has lung problems. He has gastrointestinal problems. He has psychological issues. He has a lot of anxiety,” she said.

Cardona fled to the United States in 1986 as a teenager from Colombia, after his two older brothers were killed in the country’s civil war. If his marriage to Liliana is verified, it is only a first step to securing his release and residence.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


The Noble Renard

ICE is now taking the position, as espoused by DHS Secretary Kelly and ICE head Thomas Homam, that they will act to the full powers given to them by law and essentially will not compromise on anything for humanitarian purposes, for virtually 99.99% of cases.

Are they legally in the right? Yes, definitely. This guy has been ordered deported and ICE could theoretically deport him tomorrow without breaking any laws.

But for the vast majority of modern immigration enforcement history, ICE and its predecessor INS would agree that certain cases deserved prosecutorial discretion. Cases like this, where there is a removal order but there is also a pending application that would give him a path back to his former status as a legal resident, and where there were serious humanitarian concerns, would be perfect cases for ICE/INS to simply agree to hold off any any attempts to deport someone.

Now, though, ICE is arresting people who overstayed their visas when they go to immigration offices to lawfully undergo the process to correct this problem. They are detaining people who are following the law and actively working to legalize their status, simply because ICE can arrest these people who are technically in violation of the law, even though in reality.

It’s not only inhumane and serves to intimidate people who are undocumented away from doing anything to become documented, but it is also a fucking waste of government resources. I mean, if someone applies for a green card while they are undocumented, they pay like $1500 to USCIS to process the application. But if ICE arrests them when they go to the USCIS office to have an interview for their application, ICE is now spending around $100/day to detain them for likely 3-4 months, which wastes so much fucking money. And the end result is that ICE has now spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to lock up someone who gets a green card anyway, but had to suffer through weeks or months of detention, causing huge amounts of stress, likely causing them to lose their job, and terrifying their community.

This is why prosecutorial discretion makes fucking sense.

Edit: And when ICE argues that these people broke the law, that’s besides the damn point. The federal government exercises prosecutorial discretion all the damn time in other areas of the law. Cops literally cannot arrest everyone who breaks every law. We have neither the money, manpower, or time of day in order to fully enforce every law, so all police/prosecutors everywhere make decisions about when and where to enforce the law. That’s the way it has always been, and immigration should be no different.