Sacramento, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he had pardoned three immigrants in an effort to keep them from being deported.
Newsom’s office said that the three men being pardoned all “made bad decisions” but had served their time and transformed their lives, the Associated Press reported.
The move was just the latest in a string of actions by California’s governor designed specifically to challenge President Donald Trump’s administration’s crackdown on immigrants who commit crimes in the United States.
All three men who were pardoned currently live in Los Angeles County, according to the Associated Press.
Arnou Aghamalian, 42, was convicted of helping his cousin set on fire a car belonging to a nightclub manager with whom he had been arguing.
The car was unoccupied when they set it on fire and nobody was injured.
Since getting out of prison, Aghamalian has married and the couple recently had twins, the Associated Press reported.
He entered the United States legally with his family as a refugee from Iran with when he was 15.
The second man pardoned, 41-year-old Thear Sam, was convicted of robbery after he stole a man’s backpack and wallet when he was 18 year old, the Associated Press reported.
Sam was arrested and convicted again after he gave a man who had stolen a car a ride, led police on a high speed chase, and then fled on foot.
He entered the United States lawfully with his parents at the age of four when the family was escaping the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, according to the Associated Press.
Sam has worked more than 17 years for the same aviation company and his wife and daughter are U.S. citizens.
Victor Ayala was convicted of felony robbery in 2001 after he assaulted a security guard who caught him shoplifting at an electronics store, the Associated Press reported.
Ayala also had four prior misdemeanor convictions for theft and a hit-and-run crash where nobody was injured.
He was two years old when his parents brought him to the United States legally from El Salvador and he runs a carpet cleaning business, according to the Associated Press.
A pardon doesn’t guarantee that somebody won’t be deported because a pardon doesn’t actually erase the conviction, and that is what deportation orders are based on.
“A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities, and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction,” Newsom’s office said in a press release.
Newsom also commuted the life sentences of two men who will now be able to go before the parole board and seek release, the KCRA reported.
Esdvin Flores, 44, held a gun on a robbery victim while his partner tore off her jewelry.
Flores has served 20 years of his life sentence and the governor’s office said he has been working with and mentoring at-risk youth, KCRA reported
The second commutation was 35-year-old Jensen Ramos, who has served 17 years of his life sentence for shooting at a vehicle after a fight at a party.
No one was injured in the incident, according to KCRA.
Ramos has become a lead trainer in the Paws for Life rescue dog training program in prison.
The program claims to have had the most commutations of life sentences of any rehabilitation program in the state, KCRA reported.
Newsom faced harsh criticism for this latest round of efforts to thwart President Trump’s plans but he wasn’t daunted.
“The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, and correct unjust results in the legal system,” the press release from his office said.