Carlos Humberto Cardona is one of the thousands of 9/11 recovery workers who suffers from health issues—for some, these health issues can be debilitating—after breathing in toxic air following the deadly terror attack. Cardona is also one of the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants to have been swept up by Donald Trump’s deportation force in the past months.
Cardona was initially issued a deportation order in 2000, but federal immigration officials decided he could stay so long as he stay out of trouble and check in regularly with ICE, which he has done since. Even with the threat of deportation from the U.S. looming over his head, Cardona did what he felt was right and helped clear the rubble of 9/11.
But following Trump’s inauguration, Cardona was arrested due to an attempted drug sale conviction from over 25 years ago, a transaction the family insists he was not a part of. Despite
fact that Cardona has lived here for over 30 years, has not been in trouble since the 1990 conviction, and checked in regularly with ICE since 2000, the administration has decided this 9/11 worker is a priority for deportation:
“I can’t believe that this is happening to him after all of the sacrifices he has made. He says he feels like he’s being treated like a criminal,” [Cardon’s wife] Liliana told the Daily News.
According to Think Progress, “Cardona fled Colombia for the United States at the age of 17 in 1986 after his two brothers, who served as police officers, were killed by anti-government rebels during his home country’s civil war.” In the time since then, Cardona has attempted to sort out his legal status through Liliana, a U.S. citizen, but the process is arduous and takes time, which is perilously short for him at the moment:
Last week, Barua filed a legal action asking a Brooklyn federal judge to make the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services hurry and decide a basic 2014 application verifying his marriage to Liliana, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
An approved application is just a necessary first step in an attempt at residency, Barua noted.
Cardona and his family worry not just about the danger he could face back in Colombia, but also about his medical needs. “He’s very much an American,” Cardona’s attorney Rajesh Barua said. “He’s scared of going back to Colombia. He doesn’t know how he’ll maintain a living and what kind of treatment he’ll have for respiratory problems, which are very real.”