Demiocrat Governors Pardon Immigrants Convicted of Serious Crimes to Halt Deportation

While the nation was preoccupied celebrating the holidays, the governors of two major states pardoned immigrants convicted of serious crimes to shield them from deportation. First, California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned two men on the verge of being deported for committing crimes in the U.S., according to a Sacramento news report. Days later, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pardoned 18 immigrants convicted of serious crimes so they could remain in the country. The foreigners had obtained legal immigration status in the United States but committed such abhorrent crimes that they faced removal after the completion of their criminal sentence. An official statement issued by the governor's office refers to the pardoned as contributing members of society? who face the threat of deportation and other immigration-related challenges? as a result of their crimes.

Cuomo said the foreign criminals he pardoned had been rehabilitated but the 'stigma of convictions? prevented them from gaining legal status or fully reentering society. While the federal government continues to target immigrants and threatens to tear families apart with deportation, these actions take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York,? Cuomo said in a statement. The state press release also quotes several representatives from open borders groups praising the governor's pardons. Among them is the president of a group dedicated to eradicating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, who commended Cuomo's strong display of leadership. Too many immigrants with prior criminal convictions are subjected to the gratuitous punishment of deportation, despite being longstanding contributing members of our community," said the president of the Vera Institute of Justice. The director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law also applauded Cuomo, saying deportation is an out-size punishment for prior criminal convictions when people serve their sentences and go on to becomelongstanding, law abiding, contributing members of society."

Let's look at a few of the newly pardoned immigrants. The Californians are two Cambodian men, Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis, arrested in immigration sweeps a few months ago. The men, ages 42 and 39, came to the U.S. as children and were convicted of felonies as adults. The crimes include a weapons charge and association to a gang. Neth and Rottanak were scheduled to be deported in December along with dozens of other Cambodians convicted of crimes but a federal judge in southern California issued a temporary restraining order after their pro bono attorneys from a civil rights group filed an emergency motion. Nearly 2,000 Cambodians in the U.S. are subject to deportation, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures cited in a northern California newspaper. More than half of them have criminal convictions that stripped them of legal status.

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