Gov. David Paterson announced this morning that he has issued 24 more pardons to immigrants subject to deportation because of their prior convictions.

At a press conference in his Manhattan office (which started 36 minutes late), Paterson had some strong words for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office, which he said is casting too wide a net and catching small fish while trying to keep the US safe from terrorists.

“As we tighten and strengthen our laws on those highest offenders, there is no reason that we should be as inflexible and insensitive for those who have committed comparably smaller crimes, particularly when there’s only one offense,” Paterson said.

“I believe in rehabilitation and redemption. ICE clearly does not.”

UPDATE: Here’s the press release with the names and background information of the pardonees.

Paterson said the people he has pardoned have “paid their debt to society” and are now “otherwise enterprising citizens.” He said he recognizes the power of pardons and insisted he has only utilized it in the interest of “justice.”

He spoke of one man who committed a misdemeanor crime 37 years ago and is now facing deportation.

Another man shot and killed an intruder who was sneaking into his window, the governor said. The DA declined to charge the man with murder, but he was convicted on an illegal weapons charge. “ICE ignores the law because there was a death in the incident,” Paterson said.

The governor lamented that crimes that were once not considered deportable offenses now are classified as such. He suggested people who pleaded guilty to those crimes years ago might not have done so had they known the law would change.

Prior to today’s announcement, Paterson had already granted 9 pardons to immigrants convicted of crimes that included drug possession, robbery, and attempted murder. All were subject to deportation as a result of their convictions.

This past May, the governor set up a panel to weigh pardons for people facing deportation. He set an Oct. 1 deadline for applications and received 1,100 pleas.

During the press conference, Paterson was grilled about the controversial commutation he issued yesterday to John White, an African-American man who was convicted of manslaughter in the 2006 shooting of a white teenager, Daniel “Dano” Cicciaro Jr.

The governor was criticized for announcing the commutation prior to speaking with the Cicciaro family. Paterson admitted that “in retrospect I would have sought the victims’ input.” He said he spoke with Cicciaro’s parents for about an hour this morning.

Paterson refused to disclose the details of that conversation and insisted he would not have changed his mind about White’s commutation had the talk taken place prior to his granting of it.

He did, whoever, say Cicciaro’s mother has raised some “issues” that he will “think about over the holidays.”