(Via LA Times)
The two Cambodian refugees living in Northern California had been convicted of crimes years ago and, under the Trump administration’s more aggressive immigration enforcement policies, those offenses had placed them on a path toward deportation.
But on Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the pardons of both men — Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis — saying they had paid their debts to society and now lived honest and upright lives.
Immigration is a federal, not state, responsibility, but attorneys for the men hope the pardons will eliminate the rationale for deporting them. Across the country, immigration attorneys are doing the same: seeking gubernatorial pardons in last-ditch attempts to forestall deportations or allow the deported to return to the U.S.
Targeting convicted criminals for deportation isn’t a new idea; it was a priority under President Obama, who deported more people than any of his predecessors. But during the Obama administration, only those with serious crimes on their records were targeted for removal. President Trump has cast a much wider net.
Shortly after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the removal of people in the U.S. illegally who have criminal convictions. In addition to speeding up the deportation of convicts, Trump’s orders also called for quick removal of people in the country illegally who are charged with crimes and waiting for adjudication.
And federal officials began to act swiftly.
In June, immigration authorities in Michigan rounded up more than 100 Iraqi nationals with criminal backgrounds. A month later, about 40 of them asked Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for pardons.
Among those seeking a reprieve was Usama Hamama, 54, who co-owns a market in the Detroit area. Hamama, who came to the United States as a refugee when he was 11, was convicted of felony assault and carrying a gun in a vehicle in 1988. He was sentenced to two years in prison. Since 1992, he has faced the threat of deportation, but that hadn’t been a real possibility until the Trump administration.
Hamama’s attorney, Bill Swor, who works closely with the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, described his client’s crime as a low-level road rage incident. Since then, he said, Hamama has raised a family and opened his small business.
“A pardon would wipe clean this offense and his record,” Swor said of Hamama, who is being held in a federal immigration detention facility in Michigan. “He was in the country legally when the offense occurred, so a pardon takes us back to that status.”
Last month, Hamama’s 12-year-old daughter, Lindsey, wrote a letter to a federal judge overseeing her father’s case. She also sent a copy to the governor.
“All I want for Christmas,” she wrote, “is my dad home and nothing else.”
The governor’s office has not made a decision on a pardon.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, received a similar plea — this one from an Army veteran with a felony drug conviction. Miguel Perez Jr., 39, joined the military in 2001 as a legal permanent resident and served two tours in Afghanistan.
In 2008, he was convicted of distributing less than 100 grams of cocaine. Perez, a native of Mexico, served half of his 15-year prison sentence but had his residency revoked as a result of the conviction and is being held in a detention center in Wisconsin.
Rauner hasn’t decided whether he’ll grant the pardon.
Gubernatorial pardons don’t guarantee an immigrant facing deportation could remain in the U.S., but they might have an effect, said Jason Cade, an associate professor of law at the University of Georgia, who characterized it as a case-by-case issue.
For example, Cade said, if an immigrant has a drug conviction that makes them subject to deportation and that conviction is pardoned, then deportation should no longer be an option.
“The bottom line is that full and unconditional pardons should absolutely be effective as a defense against deportation in cases where the conviction triggers certain removal categories — specifically those targeting aggravated felonies … or multiple criminal convictions,” said Cade, who has written extensively on immigration law.
Though the federal government may still have grounds to deport someone, Cade said, a pardon might lead authorities “to exercise favorable discretion.”
But that hasn’t always happened.
This year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, pardoned Liliana Cruz Mendez, a mother of two who lived in the suburbs outside Washington. Cruz Mendez, who was in the country illegally from El Salvador, was stopped for a minor traffic infraction in 2014; her car had a blown-out headlight.
George Escobar, senior director at CASA — an immigrant rights group in the Washington area — called McAuliffe’s pardon “a show of solidarity for her cause and the belief she should not have to leave this country.”
“We had hoped that it would sway” Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Escobar, who had worked to secure her pardon. “Unfortunately that was not the case.”
Federal immigration officials deported Cruz Mendez this summer.
But for others, especially people with green cards or other legal status, pardons have helped. Another common thread: living in a state with a Democratic governor who perhaps is looking to push back against the Trump administration.
In May, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pardoned Rene Lima-Marin, who in 2008 was mistakenly released early from prison, where he was serving time for a robbery conviction. Lima-Marin, who had fled Cuba in the 1980s, got married, had a son and started working. Six years later, in 2014, Colorado officials realized the mistake and took him back into custody.
This year, days after a judge released Lima-Marin, Hickenlooper pardoned him. Even so, Lima-Marin sits in an immigration detention center, though his attorneys are hopeful he will be released.
“In terms of rehabilitation, he demonstrated an ability to contribute to the fabric of his community and Colorado,” Hickenlooper said during a news conference around the time of the pardon. “He rebuilt his life. He’s become a law-abiding, productive member of his community.”
But in a different case this fall, Hickenlooper denied a pardon request from Ingrid Encalada Latorre, who has found sanctuary in churches throughout Colorado for much of the last year. Latorre, a native of Peru, has been living in the United States illegally for 15 years.
“We carefully look at each case and take a holistic approach when considering an application,” Hickenlooper said in an email. “Clemency is not the solution to our country’s broken immigration system.”
In California, Brown, a Democrat, has issued pardons that touched the lives of those facing deportation as well as those already removed from the country.
In 2015, Brown pardoned Eddy Zheng, an immigrant fighting deportation after spending more than two decades in prison for a robbery conviction. Zheng and his family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s from China. He remains in the U.S. and became a naturalized citizen in this year.
The pardons announced Saturday were granted to Neth, who was convicted on a felony weapons charge in 1995, and Kong, who was convicted on felony joyriding in 2003. In his pardon message, among several dozen issued, Brown said that since Neth and Kong left prison, both had gone on to become “law-abiding citizens.”
Of Kong, he added, “Indeed, several individuals wrote in support of Mr. Kong, describing him as kind and generous, and as a role model to those who face insurmountable challenges in their lives.”
Last spring, Brown pardoned two former Marines, Erasmo Apodaca Mendizabal and Marco Antonio Chavez, as well as former soldier Hector Barajas Varela. All three had received honorable discharges from the military but later were convicted of crimes and eventually deported.
An immigration judge reinstated Chavez’s green card in November after Brown’s pardon. On Thursday, after 15 years in Mexico, Chavez returned to the U.S.
Moments after walking across the border near San Diego, he told reporters that he could hardly believe that this year his Christmas morning would begin with a hug from his relatives.
Trump judges…….The Purge!
I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.
That great lyric from Ice Cube has more bite and meaning in the run up to the 2020 election. Now we have the investigation of the investigators. The Mueller investigation and everything it has encompassed is now being scrutinized. We are finally looking at indictments and guilty pleas from the corrupt cabal that tried to bring down, frame, jail and impeach a duly elected, INNOCENT president and anyone in his sphere. Getting to the point of investigating the investigators has been a long hard slog.
We did not foresee how really deep and treacherous the swamp really was. You could investigate, indict and try someone like a Hillary Clinton for example, and someone of authority in that chain is a corrupt actor from the Deep State and you will then see the guilty party skate free. Or you can have a completely innocent Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, George Papodopoulos railroaded by a corrupt judge. The Michael Flynn case is the most glaring. The DOJ has dropped the case and charges against him and in an unprecedented move the judge does not drop the case, he extends it as if he is the prosecutor.
So there is a light at the end of the tunnel my friends. Donald Trump has been appointing a record number of federal judges. This is a brilliant move and somewhat frustrating and time consuming. But there is a method to the madness. Why investigate, indict and try just for a Deep State judge to let the guilty party walk free? Donald Trump has appointed over 300 judges and counting. More will be appointed to the bench and now there is a more likely chance when the guilty parties are tried, there will be justice. So there is a silver lining in this swamp covered cloud.
By Michael Ameer
The reckoning of the fake news media.
Karma, the sweet smell of poetic justice, the bully gets punched in the nose in the end! Fake news finally gets counted out and David to the Goliath is a teenager named Nicholas Sandmann the MAGA hat wearing unassuming media slayer.
Nicholas Sandmann and his legal team has announced a settlement with The Washington Post on their $250 Million dollar suit. This comes also on the heels of the multi-million dollar suit against CNN. They have stated 2 down and six to go. Here is their list:
NBC, CBS, ABC, NYT, Gannett, Rolling Stones.
Many have tried to get the media companies to report fairly but even Billionaire hardball players like Donald Trump are impotent against the media smear machines. Politicians, celebrities and any adults in the public realm have diminished rights when it comes to defending their reputation against lies and attacks from media behemoths. This is a sad state of affairs and what’s lead to the monumental rise of fake propaganda news.
In steps Nicholas Sandmann who was wrongly accused by many media outlets when the story broke of belligerent teens harassing a Native American man beating a drum in a rally. There were duel rallies in the area. Since the teen was wearing a MAGA hat the news media or better yet fake news media went into overdrive bashing the kids. When the whole video was viewed any honest person could see the kids did nothing wrong in the whole confrontation. But this blatant truth means nothing to fake news. They hate Trump so lies are okay as long as it hurts their intended target. Nicholas Sandmann is a normal American well behaved teen. With him being a teen or minor the laws give him protections not afforded a public figure. So he could aggressively defend himself with a good legal team. Now truth and justice has a chance to rule and not the mob rule of the left. If this could happen more often we would have a more honest press. But we know they have financial donors and backers that pay them to spread these lies so we will have to see what is coming down the pike in hopes there will be more honesty in reporting. But don’t hold your breathe.
By Michael Ameer
Should the media and politicians be held responsible for fraudulent hydroxychloroquine reports?
Saying a drug that clearly works, doesn’t work is Trump Derangement Syndrome beyond comprehension.
The Lancet Study on Hydroxychloroquine was fraught with errors and incomplete data. It was thrown together to let the world know that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work. Well that study was retracted. A Henry Ford Health System study found the drug helped patients with COVID-19. Just as the president was saying. Trump mentioned HCQ and the collective mainstream media went into overdrive to prove him wrong. And once again Trump accused of lie of the century turns out to be right. He was clearly right in the beginning. The media said the drug could cause harm if not used correctly. That could also be said about aspirin or any drug.
Taking this derangement one step further was governors making it hard to get HCQ and banning it in some places from use. Now we know in hindsight the drug works and these politicians and media companies as CNN are libel for deaths of Coronavirus patients that died when a life saving drug was readily available in stockpile. Also the governors sending the elderly with COVID-19 into nursing homes with the most vulnerable also caused many unnecessary deaths. Weren’t we told we had to save our grandparents? If we loved them don’t visit them to be safe? So why would governors send COVID-19 patients to nursing homes when they (New York) mainly was provided thousands of empty hospital beds on the navy ship and the convention center?
I have been following these people long enough to know these things are not an accident. Germany and Israel sent the United States millions of tablets of HCQ. They were at the ready and cheap. It’s been used for malaria since the 1960’s so the side effects have been tested, it is safe. Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister was saved with HCQ. Thousands around the world have been saved with this drug. So we must ask the question when will the media and politicians be dragged into a court of law for their negligent reckless reporting?
By Michael Ameer