California Governor Gavin Newsome announced on Friday that he had pardoned three immigrants convicted of crimes as part of efforts to protect them from deportation to their home countries.
The three men – originally from El Salvador, Iran and Cambodia – violate the law as teenagers or young adults, serve their sentences and take steps to rehabilitate themselves, according to a government cabinet.
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But Newsom's pardons do not fully protect men from deportation. Instead, this process deletes men's criminal records to prevent past crimes being dealt with in deportation cases. All three men live in Los Angeles County and were lawfully brought to the United States as children, according to the governor's office.
"The governor considers pardon to be an important part of the criminal justice system that can promote accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful hiring, and correct unfair outcomes in the legal system," the release said .
The governor, a Democrat, pardons 38-year-old Victor Ayala, who, in 2001
According to the management cabinet, Ayala's parents brought him legally to the United States from El Salvador when he was 2. He is now a three-year-old father who owns a carpet cleaning business.
Newsom also pardons 41-year-old Tear Shev, who, at 18, was convicted of robbing a man's wallet and backpack. He was sentenced as an accessory the following year after leading police on a high-speed pursuit while helping another man, a car thief steal a separate vehicle, evading arrest, KTLA reports.
Shev entered the US legally as a 4-year-old refugee fleeing Cambodia from Khmer Rouge. His wife and daughter are US citizens and he has worked for 17 years at an airline.
The third immigrant to be pardoned is 42-year-old Arnou Agamalian, who, as a 22-year-old in 1999, was sentenced to help his cousin ignite the uninhabited car of a nightclub owner after a dispute. Nusson's office said Agamalian had entered the United States with his family of 15 years as a refugee from Iran. He and his wife are parents of newborn twins. He now owns a solar energy company.
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In addition to the pardon of three immigrants, Newsom pardons a fourth man, 59-year-old Curtis Reynolds of Sacramento, who was convicted of six drug offenses in 1998, including drug charges and 2003, reports The Bee. Newsom says that after his convictions, Reynolds has dedicated his life to volunteering to help those struggling with addiction.
Newsom also reversed sentences for two men who had previously been facing life in prison. Edwin Flores, 44, served 20 years behind bars for robbing a woman with a weapon at the age of 23. Jenson Ramos, 35, has served 17 years for attempted murder after shooting himself in a car fleeing a home-brawl when he was 17 years old. The governor's office said both men had taken steps to rehabilitate behind bars. Commutations make both suitable for participation in a parole hearing.