Tough Love Judge in Fight to Stop Deportation of Hard Luck Kid

02/19/2010 3:26 PM |


This New York Times story is simultaneously heartwarming and very, very frustrating.

Fifteen years ago Qing Hong Wu was convicted for a string of muggings at the age of 15, serving three years in reformatory prison. The judge in the trial, Michael A. Corriero, himself a product of the mean streets of Little Italy, urged Mr. Wu to turn his life around, promising that if the young Chinese immigrant succeeded he’d “be there to stand behind him.” Well, Mr. Wu really turned his life around, working his way up to vice president at a national tech company, and getting engaged to an American citizen.

Good story so far right? Yeah… but it gets bad. In applying for US citizenship a few years ago, Mr. Wu (who emigrated from China with his family, at age 5) was told that he was a criminal alien; he was then shackled and locked up in one of this country’s deplorable immigrant detention centers. He now faces deportation.

Facing such an awful fate (being told you have to leave your life of 25 years for a strange, distant country) Mr. Wu wrote a letter to Judge Corriero, reminding him of his promise. Understandably, the judge was dismayed and angry at the intractable legal strictures of the Department of Immigration:

“Here was a young man who did everything we expected of him,” he said. “It really cries out for some kind of justice.”

There are multiple efforts underway to vacate the 1996 conviction—including a letter from Judge Corriero to Governor Paterson—but Mr. Wu remains in detention, and is still facing deportation.

And that’s just awful.