Gov. Jerry Brown handed out pardons Saturday to two illegal aliens who were on the verge of being deported for committing crimes while in the U.S.
Brown characterized the pardons as acts of mercy, according to an article on Saturday in the Sacramento Bee.
With the pardons, the reason for deportation may be eliminated, lawyer Kevin Lo of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, which represented some of the men in a recent class-action lawsuit, said in the Bee. The pardoned aliens will still need to ask immigration courts to reopen their cases, he said.
In all, Brown pardoned 132 people for mostly nonviolent and drug-related crimes, and commuted the sentences of 19 others, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Since returning to office in 2011, he has handed down a modern-era record 1,059 pardons, along with 37 commutations, far more than the 404 pardons and one commutation he made over his first two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983.
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 in Stanislaus County at age 25 and sentenced to a year in jail. 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 in Stanislaus County, The Bee said.
But California gave Neth another gift in 2014 with Proposition 47, the voter-approved ballot initiative that allowed some felony crimes to be reclassified as misdemeanors. Early this month, a court changed Neth’s firearm count to a lesser charge under those guidelines – another step toward restoring his legal status.
Brown last defied the White House in October by signing into law so-called “sanctuary state” legislation, placing limitations on state and local law enforcement’s ability to help federal officials enforce immigration violations.