Qing Hong Wu, the individual spotlighted in my previous blog entry has been pardoned by Governor David Paterson of New York. It is hoped by Mr. Wu’s family and friends that the pardon will stop deportation proceedings against Mr. Wu, result in his release from immigration detention, and lead to his successful application for US citizenship. The fact that it took a governor’s pardon to prevent his inevitable deportation, despite Mr. Wu’s long ties and significant contributions to the US, is an important statement about the rigidity and arbitrariness of current immigration law.
By almost any measure, Qing Hong Wu is an American. He has lived in the US since the age of five, completed all of his schooling here and obtained a university degree, through hard work rose in prominence to the position of Vice-President of a national IT company, and he is engaged to be married. He also takes care of his mother, an elderly naturalized US citizen, but when Mr. Wu applied for US citizenship at the age of 29, he was detained and placed in deportation.
The reason? His juvenile record. Mr. Wu made some mistakes in his youth, but he listened to his juvenile sentencing judge, now-retired Judge Corriero of New York, who told him that he was young and could turn his life around, and he did. Mr. Wu not only served time for his childhood crimes, but also worked hard to secure a successful education and career. As US law now stands, however, criminal deportation proceedings will ignore entirely the myriad ways that Mr. Wu has demonstrated rehabilitation, including his positive contribution to his community and employer, and instead the proceedings will focus entirely on his juvenile bad behavior.
Recognizing the immense strides taken by Mr. Wu in the past fifteen years, Judge Corriero supports his fight to remain in the US and is seeking a governor’s pardon for Wu’s juvenile record, the only way to avoid his mandatory deportation. Mr. Wu’s employer has submitted a letter of support, and the Organization of Chinese Americans is seeking to have Mr. Wu’s 1996 guilty plea vacated because his criminal lawyer failed to explain to the teenager that by pleading to criminal conduct, he was also agreeing to his mandatory deportation.