June 29, By Jason Cohen
A Queens man who helped clean up the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was facing deportation was freed from ICE custody Wednesday afternoon.
Carlos Humberto Cardona, who was being housed at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey, was facing the imminent threat of deportation until he was released yesterday.
Cardona’s troubles began in February when immigration authorities arrested and detained him for a 27-year-old drug offense.
Despite Governor Andrew Cuomo granting him clemency on June 21, there was still a risk that he would be kicked him out of the country.
However, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. immigration officials determined yesterday that Cardona was not an immediate priority for deportation.
Cardona came to the US from Colombia nearly three decades ago and has been living in the United States with his wife, a U.S. citizen, since. However, as a result of changes to federal immigration enforcement policy, Cardona has been detained since February, after appearing for a routine U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appointment.
Cardona worked as a cleanup and hazmat recovery worker rehabilitating Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent four months removing hazardous material from the wreckage. As a result of his work at Ground Zero, he suffers from acute respiratory issues, depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Cardona’s release comes shortly after Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) launched a nationwide petition today to stop his deportation.
“This is a positive step forward in Mr. Cardona’s case,” Crowley said. “Deporting him would have sent the wrong message, not just to the immigrants who call our country home, but to all who would help when their country calls on them. We must now turn our efforts to assisting Mr. Cardona in gaining legal permanent residence.”
ICE confirmed with Crowley’s office that his immigration case is ongoing, but that Cardona will no longer be detained as the case is processed.