This trans activist was pardoned so she wouldn’t be deported
A transgender activist has been pardoned after over twenty years to allow her to apply for US citizenship and not be removed from the country.
Lorena Borjas, 57, received a formal pardon for her 1994 conviction from Governor Andrew Cuomo last week.
Borjas was originally convicted of ‘criminal facilitation’ (helping someone to commit a crime) when she was a victim of human trafficking.
Borjas, who was originally from Mexico, is well known within the New York trans community for her voluntary work since moving to the United States in 1981.
In her work, Borjas has organised needle exchanges for transgender women and travelled New York City to give out condoms and food to vulnerable people.
Borjas even set up a weekly HIV testing clinic in her own home.
The 57-year-old was at high risk of deportation due to her conviction until her pardon last week.
Borjas greeted the news by reaffirming her commitment to helping trans women in New York.
She said: “With this pardon granted, I will no longer have to go to sleep at night, worrying that I will be deported back to a country that is no longer home.
“I will be able to live my life without stress and fear of immigration and I will be able to continue doing the work I do and help more vulnerable transgender women.”
Now that she has been pardoned, Borjas will now be able to seek permanent residence and citizenship in the United States.
Lynly Egyes of the Transgender Law Centre represented Borjas throughout the proceedings and welcomed her pardon.
Egyes said: “Lorena has done more than anyone else I know to shine a light on the epidemic of trafficking in transgender communities and to help other trans women escape exploitation.
“Her generosity and self-sacrifice is well known throughout New York State and the country.
She continued: “I am thrilled for Lorena today and grateful that, after her years of selfless work helping others, New York State answered the call when she was in need.”
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60 other people were granted pardons by Governor Cuomo last week, who also commuted the sentences of two others.
In a statement, the Governor explained the pardons and criticised the Trump administration’s track record on immigration.
He said: “These New Yorkers have proved their rehabilitation, in some cases for decades, but have been unable to gain legal status or fully re-enter society due to the stigma of conviction.
“While the federal government continues to target immigrants and threatens to tear families apart with deportation, these actions take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York.”