To: Governor Cuomo and ICE
Support Ousman Darboe's Pardon Application
This is an urgent petition to Governor Cuomo to pardon Mr. Darboe’s criminal record, allowing him to be reunited with his family and to be protected from deportation. We also call upon ICE to release Mr. Darboe and end their deportation case against him.
Why is this important?
Mr. Darboe first came to the United States from The Gambia in 2000, when he was only 6 years old. He grew up in a large household in the Fordham Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, where the resources young people need to thrive were rare. Like so many from his neighborhood, Mr. Darboe slipped into the school-to-prison pipeline, resulting in his spending two years in juvenile detention centers and Rikers Island, after being accused of crimes like stealing a classmate’s headphones. Of those 2 years, he spent 6 months in solitary confinement on Rikers Island.
When Mr. Darboe came back home on parole in 2014, he was a changed person, clearly damaged by the two years he spent incarcerated before he even turned 20 years old. Despite this, Mr. Darboe worked hard to take responsibility and ownership of his mistakes and to rebuild his life. Once he was released, he directed his energy to caring for his five younger siblings, providing support to his hard working, immigrant parents, participating in a reentry program for young men recently released from Rikers, and working several different jobs. He was also deepening his relationship with his partner, and now wife, Lashalle Darboe, and planning to find their first home together.
Despite his best efforts to heal and to avoid ever being involved with the criminal legal system again, Ousman was repeatedly accused of committing crimes - and all but one of those allegations were dismissed. In September 2014, Ousman was accused of an early morning robbery that occurred in a neighboring building and returned to Rikers for violating his parole. Desperate to avoid reliving the traumatic experiences he already went through once as a teenager, and while spending weeks in solitary confinement while incarcerated on a technical parole violation, Ousman pled guilty and was convicted for the crime in 2017.
Mr. Darboe returned to his family and looked forward to moving on with his life. But the fact that Mr. Darboe was was undocumented and had a criminal arrest history made him a prime target for ICE. ICE raided Mr. Darboe’s family home in the summer of 2017 and arrested him. He has been incarcerated by ICE ever since and is fighting to be reunited with his family, including his newborn baby daughter who was born while he was detained by ICE at the Hudson County Jail.
Only five days after ICE detained him, Mr. Darboe and his then-fiancee, Lashalle, learned that she was pregnant with their first child. Mr. Darboe has never been able to see or hold his baby girl outside of the confines of an ICE jail. His marriage and new fatherhood has only deepened his commitment to his future. He is now determined more than ever to do everything he can do to be with his family and support them. He speaks to them multiple times a day. He earned his GED after taking classes five days a week for three months. He advocates for other people who have needs within the jail and was selected as a "houseman" to provide that leadership. He attends religious services and plans for his future.
Mr. Darboe is urgently needed by his wife and baby daughter who have been in and out of the New York City shelter system and have had to rely on public assistance, which we know will likely make them a target of the Trump Administration’s Public Charge rule. Mrs. Darboe has withstood the burden of being the sole care-taker for a growing baby girl for too long, and it has come with a cost to her mental and physical well-being. With Mr. Darboe home, Mrs. Darboe and their baby girl would be able to thrive and be at peace.
We urge Governor Cuomo to use his discretion and power as Governor to grant a pardon to allow Mr. Darboe to be reunited with his wife and young child by pardoning Mr. Darboe’s criminal record. We also urge ICE to release Mr. Darboe and end this deportation case once and for all, allowing the Darboe family a chance to be whole.
You can read more about Ousman Darboe's story here: https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/9/30/20875821/black-immigrants-school-prison-deportation-pipeline
We are also fundraising to support Ousman Darboe's wife, Lashalle, and their baby daughter: https://www.gofundme.com/f/we-keep-us-safe