An appeals board says the pardon for a Connecticut woman facing deportation is valid.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the Board of Immigration Appeals terminated 35-year-old Wayzaro Walton's removal proceedings and have allowed her to remain in the U.S.
The Hartford resident was released just before Thanksgiving after nearly eight-months of incarceration.
“Connecticut pardons count. This is a tremendous victory for Wayzaro Walton and for the entire state of Connecticut. I thank the BIA for this just and well-reasoned decision. I am overjoyed for Taz, Tamika and their daughter, who have endured unimaginable stress and trauma. Now we must work to ensure the BIA's affirmation of Connecticut's pardon process is applied to all relevant cases," Tong said in a statement.
Walton was a legal U.S. citizen for 25 years until she lost her legal status in 2012 over larceny charges.
She had been complying with all of the Department of Homeland Securities requests over the last seven years when she was taken into custody in March.
“Today’s ruling is a win for every resident of Connecticut,” Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement Monday. “A pardon granted in the State of Connecticut is no different than a pardon issued in any other state, and any attempt by a federal agency to ignore that would have created an unjust reality for every person who lives in Connecticut. I applaud the BIA for their fair and just implementation of the law."
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement Monday night, saying,
“We are thrilled that this long, painful, and wholly unnecessary ordeal is over for Wayzaro, her family, and all of the people who fought on her behalf. Hartford is a better place now that she can go back to living her life with her family. This was not an easy battle, and it took a lot of work from members of our community, activists, her attorneys, Governor Lamont and Attorney General Tong, and many more. I am grateful to all of them, and to the Board of Immigration Appeals, for ensuring that justice in this case was finally done.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal also issued a statement:
“This victory for justice will allow Wayzaro Walton to remain with her family and friends in the state that she has called home most of her life. The ruling vindicates the same legal argument that I made two years ago – and should have been adopted then. I urged the Department of State to recognize that Connecticut’s pardons issued by the Board of Pardons and Parole are no different than any other state’s pardons by its governor. I will continue to advocate that this ruling be applied to all appropriate pending and future cases.”