California governor Jerry Brown defies Trump again, issues pardon to two immigrants over deportation

Both of the pardoned immigrants reportedly came to America when they were children after their families fled the Khmer Rogue regime.

                            California governor Jerry Brown defies Trump again, issues pardon to two immigrants over deportation

California Governor Jerry Brown escalated the state's showdown with the Trump administration over illegal immigration on Saturday, by granting pardons to two men who were soon going to be deported for committing crimes while in the United States.

California Governor Jerry Brown, talks during a discussion at the America's Pledge launch event at the U.S. 'We Are Still In' pavilion at the COP 23 United Nations Climate Change Conference on November 11, 2017 in Bonn, Germany. America's Pledge is a report detailing the efforts of U.S. states, cities and businesses to keep America on line in fulfilling goals towards carbon reduction set out by the Paris Climate Agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the accord and the White House is sending its own delegation of fossil fuel supporters to the COP 23 conference next week to make the case for the continued role of coal and petroleum in world energy needs. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

Federal officials — over the recent months — have detained and deported several immigrants with felony convictions, which resulted in many losing their legal residency status in the country. The immigrants deported also included many with nonviolent offenses which occurred years ago.

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a Celebration of Life Service held for the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on December 17, 2017 in San Francisco, California. Hundreds of people attended the service for Lee, who died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has taken a strict stance against illegal immigrants and has made border security even tighter, with more stringent rules in place.

California Governor Jerry Brown briefs media about Thomas Fire in Southern California (Getty Images)

Brown, a Democratic governor, believes in the power of redemption and used a special Christmas holiday tradition to pardon the two immigrants on the verge of deportation.

Attorney Kevin Lo of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus said that the reason for the applicants' deportation may be eliminated because of the pardons granted by the governor. Lo represented some of the immigrants who were involved in a recent class-action lawsuit, according to The Sacramento Bee reports.

Lo, however, added that the pardoned immigrants will still be required to ask immigration courts to reopen their cases.

The immigration lawyers who are handling these cases have said that the recent surge in the detention of felons has been particularly focused on specific ethnic groups in the past months, including Cambodians and Vietnamese people. 

Reports state that Cambodia has not been very keen to repatriate former felons, however, it relented to accepting more of them after the US State Department halted the process of issuing visas to a small group of top Cambodian officials and their families in September. 

Immigration activists, including U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), stage a protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol (Getty Images)

Among Brown's pardons are two Northern California Cambodian men — Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis. These men were picked up in immigration sweeps in October this year.

California Governor Jerry Brown talks about climate change (Getty Images)

Kong was reportedly convicted of felony joyriding in the year 2003 when he was 25 years of age and was sentenced to a year in prison. While Neth was convicted on a felony weapons charge and a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property with a value of $400 or less in the year 1995 in Stanislaus County. Reports state that neither of the men have engaged in any criminal activity ever since they were released from prison. 


Both of these immigrants reportedly came to America when they were children after their families fled the Khmer Rouge regime. Kong and Neth were scheduled to be deported to Cambodia on Monday, however, Lo's team filed a lawsuit and a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order last week, which delayed their deportation.

Demonstrators protest outside of the office of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) urging him to pass the Dream Act (Getty Images)

Neth, aged 42, was reportedly released from the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center on Friday. He said he was not expecting the release and says "it is the best Christmas gift ever." Neth, however, was released with an ankle monitor to track his movements.

Neth lives with his wife, Cat Khamvongsa, and his 16-year-old daughter. He hopes on becoming a citizen of the US if he can and plans to encourage other immigrants in a similar situation as him to remain optimistic about their future.

Immigration activists stage a protest in front the U.S. Capitol December 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

“When I was in (detention), I think I was taught a few lessons, that I am not alone. God is always with me,” Neth told The Sacramento Bee. “I’m not pretty outspoken, sometimes can’t find the right words to say, but just have hope.”

While Kong still remains in custody. His family could not be reached for a comment on his status. 


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