California Gov. Jerry Brown celebrated a Sanctuary State Christmas by pardoning two convicted criminal aliens to prevent their deportation next week by the Trump administration.
Brown’s Christmas giving this year included granting 132 pardons and commuting 19 prison sentences. According to the online application, pardons are reserved for those individuals that have completed their sentence, and then received a court-issued certificate of rehabilitation for living crime-free in California for over a decade.
But Brown dispensed with the supposed patina of humanitarian forgiveness, and pardoned Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis. Both convicted criminals were arrested in October task force sweeps by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE) and were subject to deportation orders signed by federal judges effective beginning Dec. 25.
Neth and Rottanak immigrated to the United States in 1995 as children of families that received refugee status after escaping the Cambodia’s Marxist Khmer Rouge regime. According to the Sacramento Bee, “neither has engaged in criminal activity since being released from prison,” but their crimes resulted in the loss of legal U.S. residency.
Gov. Brown stated on October 7 when he signed the sanctuary state bill that the legislation only “bans unconstitutional detainer requests.” Brown emphasized that sanctuary state protections do not “prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings.” Brown added that the sanctuary state policy does not “prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offences listed in the TRUST ACT.”
Progressive Democrats that control the California legislature demanded that gun control violations be incorporated into the 2014 TRUST ACT to invalidate protections against deportation for any aliens that had engaged in the “Unlawful possession or use of a weapon, firearm, explosive device, or weapon of mass destruction.”
Due to his 1995 conviction on felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement and misdemeanor charges for receiving stolen property, Mony Neth was not shielded from ICE under the sanctuary state law while sitting in the Sacramento County Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove.
But Brown used his gubernatorial power to prevent Neth and Kong’s deportation by issuing a state pardon on December 23, defying the Trump administration’s initiative to expel any legal aliens that violate the terms of their visas by engaging in criminal activity.
The Bee reported that Neth was released with an ankle tracking bracelet. His attorney stated that Brown’s pardon only eliminates any felony charge against Neth, but the U.S. immigration law does not eliminate the risk of being rearrested and deported on a federal firearms count.
But Neth’s attorney believes that the 2014 voter-approved Proposition 47, which allowed some felony crimes to be reclassified as misdemeanors, could be used to restate Neth’s firearm count to a lesser charge.