New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pardoned two Caribbean-born ex-convicts of robbery and drug charges that threatened their immigration status.
One of the men, Alvaro Khalil Cumberbatch who was born in Guyana, was convicted of robbery in 2003 and after his release in 2010, became involved with prison re-entry organizations and sits on the board of the Alternatives to Violence Project.
JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society, which assists prisoners in re-entering society said of Cumberbatch
“He just did so much that you hope people would do against the usual odds, everything from working a job, building a consulting business, being there for his family, helping other people,”
Since his release from prison, almost five years now, Cumberbatch not only earned a Bachelor’s degree but he graduated with honors from Lehman College with a Master’s degree in Social Work.
But although he turned his life around, Cumberbatch faced the possibility of deportation back to Guyana based on the current US immigration law. In mid-2014, immigration officials visited Cumberbatch home and the threat of deportation hanged over his head.
A petition was launched to prevent Cumberbatch from being deported. In the video below you will hear his wife and mom talk about Cumberbatch’s journey.
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This young man from Guyana proves that while many of us will stray on the wrong path, it is never to late to take the right step and make a positive change.
In the words of Governor Cuomo “The positive contributions to society by both of these individuals in the years since their release support the case for justice to be delivered through clemency”
There are many young men like Cumberbatch in Guyana and across the Caribbean, waiting for a second chance. I hope we recognize them before it is too late.