On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned two felons who have been detained by federal authorities and are subject to deportation, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The men are still subject to deportation; however, with the felony convictions removed from their record, they will be allowed to petition immigration judges to reopen their cases. The men were both scheduled to be deported on Christmas day, but a federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing their deportation in order to allow them to legally contest their deportation now that their felony convictions have been pardoned.
The two men, named Mony Neth and Rottanak Kong, are of Cambodian descent and came to the United States as children after their parents fled the murderous communist Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Kong was convicted of felony joyriding in 2003 and Neth was convicted of a felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement in 1995. Neither has been charged with a crime since their release from prison.
Overall, Governor Brown either pardoned or commuted the sentences of 150 California criminals as part of an annual Christmas tradition.
Kong remains in federal custody. For reasons that are not immediately clear, Neth was released from custody on Friday, and according to news reports is at home with his family for Christmas.
Both men were detained in recent months as part of a federal immigration roundup that focused on illegal immigrants with felony records. Multiple media reports have indicated that this particular roundup focused on immigrants of Cambodian and Vietnamese descent.
The Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the deportation of many of the men caught in these raids.