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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

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