As part of his annual holiday pardons, the governor of California pardoned two immigrants who were arrested in immigration raids earlier this year.
Gov. Jerry Brown recently pardoned or reduced sentences for some 150 individuals convicted of crimes. Among those pardoned were Rottanak Kong and Mony Neth, two Cambodian refugees facing deportation who were recently arrested as part of a federal immigration roundup.
The “full and unconditional pardons” for Kong and Neth comes as the Trump administration justifies increased immigration enforcement by claiming immigrants who have been convicted of crimes, even nonviolent offenses, pose an immediate danger to American citizens and should be targeted for deportation.
But Brown said Kong and Neth have already served their time and paid their debts to society, essentially saying the two immigrants don’t need to be doubly punished by being deported.
The governor’s office said Kong was convicted of vehicle theft and evading a peace officer with disregard for safety in 2003. A year later, he was sentenced for possessing drugs in prison. He served seven months in prison and two years parole.
In his pardon, the governor said Kong, “has shown that since his release from custody, he has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conduct himself as a law abiding citizen.”
Neth was convicted in 1995 on weapons and receiving stolen property charges. He served 21 months in prisons and three years parole, according to the governor’s office.
Kong and Neth’s pardons mark the second time Gov. Brown has pardoned immigrants convicted of serious crimes, according to The Sacramento Bee. During his Easter pardons earlier this year, the governor pardoned two veterans who had been deported to Mexico. So far, an immigration judge has allowed one of those veterans the rare right to return the United States after being deported.