Pardons Can Reunite Immigrant Families

At Free Migration Project, we take on challenging cases that highlight major failures of the U.S. immigration system. We approach these cases in creative ways, such as the case of Denis Calderón and Julio Maldonado. Denis immigrated as a child from Peru to the United States. On a walk with his cousin Julio Maldonado to his neighborhood bar in Northeast Philadelphia in 1996, a mob of white men attacked them with slurs, beer bottles, and knives. In an event that should be shocking, the police arrested Denis and Julio despite their victimhood in this situation. They were unjustly charged with aggravated assault, imprisoned, and later deported after years of torment and trial.

Despite both men having long term residence, and Denis being married to an American citizen in addition to an approved family petition, their bogus conviction is preventing Denis from being reunited with his children in the U.S. since 2009. However, a pardon from Governor Wolf would pave the way for Denis to come home. After suffering through double punishment vs. citizens with the same convictions, pardons can be a way for non-citizens to be reunited with their families here in the U.S. Learn more about the intersection of pardons and immigrations and about Denis’ story in the latest episode of the ACLU-PA’s podcast “Speaking Freely”. FMP’s Executive Director, David Bennion and Denis’ daughter Jesenia Calderón were interviewed for this episode, you can watch it below.