Shortly after 9/11, Carlos Humberto Cardona was part of a construction company clean–up crew that helped clear the rubble at Ground Zero. Because of that work, today he struggles with chronic respiratory illness and gastrointestinal problems. Despite this background, immigration authorities want to deport him back to his birth country of Colombia, the New York Daily News reported.
Cardona, 48, from Queens, currently is being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey, after being detained during a routine check–in with immigration authorities, something he had done without incident for six years, the newspaper reported.
Cardona came to the U.S. in 1986 at the age of 17, after two of his brothers, who were police officers in Colombia, were killed by rebels. Four years later, he pleaded guilty to a drug charge, although his wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen, said he had been caught in the wrong place with the wrong people.
A decade later, immigration authorities decided to remove him from the country based on that conviction, the newspaper said. Eleven years after that, in 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Cardona, but released him the same day. He was required to check in with ICE periodically, and he has since avoided any trouble with law enforcement.
In 2014, he applied to have his marriage from the previous year verified, a process that is still pending. Meanwhile, he continued to battle his health issues while raising a now 19–year–old daughter. It was during one of the routine check–ins in February, shortly after President Donald Trump ordered a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the U.S., that he was taken into custody, according to the New York Daily News.
“He didn’t come home that day,” his wife, Liliana Cardona, told the newspaper.
Last week, Cardona’s attorney filed a legal motion asking a federal judge to order the Department of Homeland Security to speed up Cardona’s marriage verification. He also filed a clemency application with the state of New York earlier this year.