Butting heads once again with the White House on immigration, California Gov. Jerry Brown used a Christmas holiday convention to grant pardons Saturday to two men who were on the verge of being deported for committing crimes while at the U.S.
Brown characterized the pardons as acts of mercy, based on a post on Saturday in the Sacramento Bee.
The Democratic governor moved as national officials in recent months have arrested and deported immigrants together with felony convictions that caused the loss of their legal residency status, including many with nonviolent offenses from years back.
With the pardons, the reason for deportation may be removed, lawyer Kevin Lo of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, which represented some of the men in a recent class-action suit, stated in the Bee. The pardoned immigrants will still should ask immigration courts to reopen their cases, he explained.
Overall, Brown pardoned 132 individuals for largely nonviolent and drug-related crimes, and commuted the sentences of 19 others, that the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Brown’s pardons involved two Northern California Cambodian men picked up in October in immigration sweeps, Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis.
Kong was convicted on felony joyriding in 2003 at Stanislaus County at age 25 and sentenced to a year in prison. Neth was convicted on a felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement and a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property with a value of $400 or less in 1995 at Stanislaus County, The Bee said.
Both men came to the U.S. as kids after their families fled the Khmer Rouge.
Brown last defied the White House in October by signing into law “refuge state” legislation, putting limitations on local and state law enforcement’s capacity to assist federal officials enforce immigration violations.