Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a Peruvian woman who has been fighting deportation for years and who spent many months in sanctuary, has been denied a pardon by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
In announcing his decision, Hickenlooper said he had great sympathy for Latorre’s situation and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would make others less likely to do what Latorre did — use someone else’s name and Social Security number to work without proper authorization.
Latorre was unsuccessful in getting a new trial for her felony conviction, which said was based on bad legal advice. She has said she knew her documents were false but not that they were stolen and belonged to someone else. Latorre sought a pardon from the governor as her last chance in stopping her deportation. Latorre arrived in the U.S. when she was 17. She has a young son who is an American citizen.
Hickenlooper said he was “moved” by Latorre’s case, but that granting clemency would establish a bad precedent.
Hickenlooper recently did grant a pardon to Rene Lima-Marin so that he could fight deportation to Cuba, a country he left at age 2. Rene Lima-Marin is a permanent resident of the U.S. but not a citizen. He was accidentally released early from a sentence for armed robbery and married and built a life with a family before being identified and re-incarcerated. He won his freedom but was promptly taken into custody by immigration authorities because his felony conviction made him eligible for deportation. The pardon doesn’t guarantee he’ll stay in the U.S., but it has allowed him to re-open his immigration case.
The governor was both praised and criticized for that decision.
Here’s Hickenlooper’s full statement:
“Occasionally, a governor is faced with a decision with an answer that is clear but still painful. After careful review and with a heavy heart, I have decided to deny Ingrid Encalada LaTorre’s application for clemency. I did not come to this decision lightly. I spoke with her personally, and members of my team met with her and her attorney at length to ensure we had a full account of her case. I am moved by Ms. Encalada LaTorre’s dream of being an American and her extraordinarily hard work to support her family while she was here.
“At the same time, I must consider the impact of Ms. Encalada LaTorre’s crime on the victim, and most importantly, the precedent clemency would establish. Our country desperately needs comprehensive immigration reform that creates pathways for aspiring Americans like Ms. Encalada LaTorre to become productive, law-abiding citizens. But the crime that Ms. Encalada LaTorre committed was not victimless — far from it. Granting Ms. Encalada LaTorre’s application would compound the injustice of this unfortunate situation, and it would be a step backward in the fight for smart, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.
“The victim of this crime spent years dealing with the unlawful use of her Social Security number, suffering significant tax consequences and nearly losing government benefits she needed to support her own family. She opposes clemency for Ms. Encalada LaTorre. The victim is like thousands of others in this country who, through no fault of their own, face long-term consequences when someone commits this type of crime.
“Make no mistake: I disagree with many of the harsh immigration positions taken by the Trump administration, such as deporting law-abiding immigrants and ending DACA. Ms. Encalada LaTorre’s case, however, was handled consistently with practices in place since the Obama administration. Her crime rendered her ineligible for Cancellation of Removal under federal statute.
“I sympathize with Ms. Encalada LaTorre’s difficult circumstances and deeply regret the hardship she and her family may experience. But clemency is the wrong approach to fixing our broken immigration system. It cannot, on its own, stop the deportation process. It is up to Congress to respond, and I will continue to propose solutions and pressure Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.”