Immigrant Ground Zero worker facing deportation granted clemency by Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency Wednesday to a Queens man who worked at Ground Zero and was in danger of deportation under changing immigration policies.

After 9/11, Carlos Cardona, 48, worked as a cleanup and hazmat recovery worker, spending four months removing hazardous material from the debris, according to Cuomo’s office.

Cardona fled Colombia more than 30 years ago where his family was threatened by local gangs, in part, because his brother worked as a police officer, according to Cuomo’s office. He was then convicted in the United States of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in 1990, when he was 21 years old.

Cardona was detained in February after he appeared for a routine U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appointment, Cuomo said. With the governor’s pardon, Cardona can now reopen the final order of removal, according to Cuomo’s office.

“In the more than 30 years since Carlos Cardona has lived in this country, he has built a family and given back to his community, including in the aftermath of 9/11 when he assisted with ground zero recovery efforts at the expense of his own health,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It is my hope this action will not only reunite Mr. Cardona with his wife and daughter, but also send a message about the values of fairness and equality that New York was founded upon.”

Since working at Ground Zero, Cuomo said Cardona suffers from acute respiratory issues, depression, anxiety and PTSD.