According to a report from KTLA 5, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently pardoned ten immigrants convicted of decades-old criminal offenses. In doing so, he may help to spare them from being deported from the United States. The immigrants were identified as ‘at-risk’ by state authorities.
Notably, the pardons were issued as part of a larger executive push to help people who were charged and convicted of criminal offenses when they were teenagers or in their early twenties. In this article, our Los Angeles immigration law team explains the potential implications of Governor Newsom’s pardons.
A Pardon May Help an Immigrant Mitigate Criminal History
Under California law, the governor has the authority to issue a pardon of an individual conviction of a state-level criminal offense. In effect, a pardon allows a defendant relief from some (or all) of the consequences associated with a conviction. In other words, a pardon declares that a person’s debt to society has been paid. The mere fact that a pardon was issued is evidence that an individual has put effort into reforming.
A pardon may have important implications for immigration proceedings. In many cases, a criminal history—particularly a felony conviction—could be the basis for deportation. Though, a conviction does not always warrant automatic removal from the United States. In defending against a deportation, an immigrant may demonstrate mitigation of criminal history. A pardon helps to show that societal debts have been paid in full. For non-citizens, mitigating any criminal conviction is crucial.
Decades Old Offenses Can Come Back to Haunt Immigrants
Many of those pardoned by Governor Newsom were charged with criminal offenses more than two decades ago. They have already served all time and paid all of the debts connected to the alleged crime. As an example, a California man was convicted of burglary and buying/concealing stolen property in Santa Clara County back in 1997.
At the time of the offense, he was just 18 years old. The man was included amongst those pardoned by the governor because his criminal history immigration status puts him at risk of deportation. The deportation risk remains despite the fact that he was released from custody in 1999 and has had no subsequent arrests.
To be clear, a pardon of a state-level offense cannot stop federal authorities from pursuing deportation. Still, it could make a significant difference. Although the pardon offers no guarantee of safe harbor against deportation, it is one of the tools that California’s top executive has available to help protect vulnerable immigrants.
Call Our Deportation Defense Lawyers for Help With Your Case
At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration attorneys have deep experience handling complex deportation cases. We help clients identify and raise all viable legal defenses against deportation. If you or someone you care about is facing removal from the United States, we are ready to take immediate action. Call our Los Angeles law office now for a completely confidential initial consultation.