Sacramento, CA – California Governor Jerry Brown handed out 132 pardons to criminals and commuted the sentences of 19 others on Saturday, in what he characterized as an act of mercy.
Two of the pardoned criminals were about to be deported for having committed crimes while in the U.S., FOX News reported.
It was the governor’s latest move in his escalating showdown with President Trump over illegal immigration.
In recent months, federal officials have arrested and deported immigrants who were convicted of felony offenses within the U.S., but Brown’s pardons help to eliminate the grounds for deportation.
Brown also butted heads with the Trump administration in October, when the governor declared California a “sanctuary state,” and signed legislation that limited state and local law enforcement’s ability to assist the federal government’s enforcement of immigration violations, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Brown previously served as governor from 1975 until 1983. He granted 404 pardons and one commutation during that time.
He returned to office in 2011, and has since handed down a staggering 1,059 pardons and 37 commutations.
The two pardoned criminals now have a chance at not being deported.
According to the San Francisco Gate, Mony Neth and Rottanak Kong were Cambodian refugees who escaped the Khmer Rouge as children.
Neth was convicted of a gang enhancement felony weapons charge and a misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property in 1995, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Kong was convicted of felony joyriding in 2003.
Both men were scheduled to be deported on Dec. 18, but an eleventh-hour federal court temporary restraining order put a hold on their imminent departure.
Following Brown’s pardons, Neth was abruptly released from Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center on Friday.
Kong remained incarcerated as of Friday, The Sacramento Bee reported.
According to attorney Kevin Lo, the men will still need to request that immigration courts reopen their cases, but may ultimately receive legal status.
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