New proposed bill affects group who helped clean up ground zero

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Rep Joe Crowley (D-Queens) announced new legislation Sunday, proposing that illegal immigrant Ground Zero recovery workers be granted full legal access to the United States.

“They went to work at a long, hazardous and sad job of cleaning up the destruction of a terrorist attack on that day. There is no doubt in my mind that what they did was beyond patriotic; it was heroic,” Crowley (D-Queens) said at a press conference outside City Hall. “They served our country when we needed a hand, and now we’re only showing them, unfortunately, the back of ours. Instead of gratitude, they’re being shown the door.”

The bill would provide green cards to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 undocumented workers who helped clean up the World Trade Center debris, allowing them to be granted full residence, and eventually be able to qualify for citizenship.

One such worker is Carlos Cardona, who labored at the World Trade wreckage but subsequently faced deportation for a three decade old drug charge.

“It was something that I had to do for this great nation. … It was a duty to me to be there,” Cardona, 48, who lives in Queens and has a wife and daughter who are U.S. citizens, said of his work after the attacks.

Cardona was pardoned by Governor Cuomo but his case is still pending at the ICE. “If it would happen again, truly, they could count on me. I would be there,” he said. “It’s not fair what they’re doing to us.”

“These men and women acted selflessly and bravely, often risking their lives and their health,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan).  “I can tell you one thing we never did when they came to work on The Pile: We never asked their immigration status. We were just grateful for their presence and their help.”


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