Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued a pardon to a father of five minor children, who has been a contributing member of society and crime free for more than 10 years, but currently subject to deportation by the federal government. Mr. Sillah immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 22, fleeing an oppressive father in Gambia and, like so many others, hoping to pursue a better future in America. He married a U.S. citizen and had five children. Because he entered this country as a visitor, he was not allowed to work and sold clothing and supplies without a license and was charged with multiple low-level misdemeanors and violations. He subsequently obtained a job as a porter, a position he has held for 15 years and paid taxes for 15 years.
“While President Trump is obsessed with building walls to keep immigrants out, the New York family knows that its diversity is our strength,” Governor Cuomo said. “Compassion and justice is the Empire State way and Mr. Sillah is a father of five who deserves to remain with his family.”
Mr. Sillah has been detained since January, after appearing for a routine U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appointment, that he has been making as directed for 17 years. He is being held in Hudson Correctional Facility in Kearny, New Jersey and recently applied for clemency in New York. After his removal was scheduled for the end of February, his deportation was stayed by an emergency application to the federal district court. He next appears before this court on Friday, where he will be able to present this pardon as further evidence that his deportation should continue to stay. If the court decides in Mr. Sillah’s favor, then with this pardon, he will be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to prevent his removal once and for all and allow him to pursue naturalization through his wife, who is a U.S. citizen.
Hector Figueroa, President, 32BJ SEIU said, “We commend Governor Cuomo for issuing a pardon and showing immigration authorities what we know, that Baba Sillah is a hardworking New Yorker who belongs back with his family. We will continue to support him and his family until he is returned home to his wife and kids who depend on him.”
Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council, said, “We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo for issuing this pardon today. Baba Sillah and his wife Mamou are both hardworking union members doing their best to raise a family in New York City. They deserve to stay together, and Governor Cuomo’s pardon goes a long way toward helping them regain that fundamental dignity.”
In 1993, Mr. Sillah immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 22, fleeing an oppressive father in Gambia and, like so many others, hoping to pursue a better future in America. Because he entered this country as a visitor, he was not allowed to work. Out of a job, and fearful of exposing himself to deportation if he alerted prospective employers of his immigration status, Mr. Sillah began selling clothing and other items without a license, in mid-Manhattan for a period of five years. During this time, Mr. Sillah was found guilty of multiple low-level misdemeanors and violations pertaining to his unlicensed vending.
Mr. Sillah, now 47, was eventually able to obtain work authorization per an ICE order of supervision and has lived crime free for 11 years. Now, as a New Yorker committed to leading a positive and productive lifestyle, Mr. Sillah works as a porter, a position he has held and paid his taxes on for 15 years. He is also an active member of his union, 32BJ SEIU. He and his wife, Mamou, a housekeeper, share the responsibilities of caring for their five minor children, three of whom are Mrs. Sillah’s from a previous relationship but who see Baba at their father. Mr. Sillah provides necessary transportation, care, and health insurance for his son’s pronounced medical needs. Were he to be deported, the Sillah family would lose a vital source of care and support, as well as necessary income.
It would be a grave injustice to deport Mr. Sillah, a father, a husband, an immigrant, a New Yorker, based on these offenses for which he has already served his sentence and clearly grown away from. This pardon will allow for the possibility for Baba Sillah to remain here, in the country he has called home for over half of his lifetime.