Green Card for all illegal immigrants who helped after 9/11 attacks, proposes new bill

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The North Tower is shown burning after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the tower at 8:45 a.m, on 9/11/2001. Photo: Reuters.

New York – As legal immigrants wait it out patiently for decades to get a Green Card, remain frustrated by lack of action by Congress to remove logjams in visa numbers, come an absurd proposal by some Democratic members of New York congressional delegation, spearheaded by Rep. Joseph Crowley of Queens, to give permanent residency to illegal immigrants who helped in the rescue, clean-up and recovery efforts in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The New York Times, which first reported this development, went into length into the case of an illegal immigrant from Colombia, Carlos Cardona, who was convicted in a drug pushing case, and helped out in the aftermath of 9/11. He was recently pardoned by Gov. Chris Cuomo for that effort. Cardona will benefit from Crowley’s proposal if passed by Congress.

“Cardona sifted through and cleared rubble for four days at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attacks. Little did he know that his decision to volunteer in 2001 would ripple into the future.” The Times reported.

Crowley, who had hailed the pardon by Cuomo which allowed immigration authorities to release Cardona from detention as his case is processed, explained at a news conference outside City Hall last week, about the bill – the 9/11 Immigrant Worker Freedom Act – to be introduced later this week that would grant green cards to undocumented immigrants: “They served our country when we needed a hand, and now we are only showing them, unfortunately, the back of ours. Instead of gratitude, they are being shown the door.”

The legislation is likely to face an uphill battle with a Republican-controlled Congress, and with the Trump administration, which has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration. The bill currently does not have support from any Republican members of Congress, Crowley said, the Times reported.

Under the James Zadroga Act of 2010, which was reauthorized in 2015, compensation and health benefits were extended to victims of Sept. 11 and workers who responded to the attacks, including immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Almost 70 percent of workers who helped in the cleanup showed respiratory symptoms, according to researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Crowley’s bill could affect 1,000 to 2,000 unauthorized immigrants who aided in the cleanup efforts after the attacks.

Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a co-sponsor of the bill, said: “During the darkness of that day, we saw New Yorkers rally together to care for one another and respond to the attack. Immigrants, documented and undocumented, were among those that worked on ‘the pile,’ searching for survivors and helping our city recover.”

The bill will be introduced by Crowley; besides Representative Velázquez, of Brooklyn; its co-sponsors are Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Jerrold Nadler, both of Manhattan.

Crowley and the other Democrats who support this bill need to understand that all immigrants, including legal immigrants, helped New York City recover, build it, after the terrorist attacks almost 16 years ago. The credit goes to all New Yorkers for staying on in the city as it went into rehabilitation mode, and indeed residents from all over the country who came out to help.

Crowley and other Democrats are just blindly pandering to the Hispanic voter base by this act, with no regard for the tens of thousands of legal immigrants who are waiting for permanent residency, are law abiding workers, not drug pushers or criminals.

Crowley should show his regard for the hard working legal immigrants in Queens and elsewhere in the United States who have withstood adversity after 9/11 and are waiting for a Green Card. It’s time he did the right thing for all residents, not just illegal immigrants, and those convicted of pushing drugs.