California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom stepped in to help three convicted immigrants avoid being deported to their home countries.
The three California residents who were convicted of crimes and served out their sentences were part of an effort by Newsom to protect them from deportation by issuing pardons as they have each rehabilitated themselves since their crimes, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The men, who currently live in Los Angeles County, were legally brought to the U.S. as children, the governor’s office said. The pardons may not prevent the deportations but serve to wipe out the men’s criminal records so they can not be used as factors in determining their deportation cases in court.
“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 news release said.
Arnou Aghamalian was 15 years old when he came to the U.S. with his family as a refugee from Iran. In 1999, when he was a 22-year-old, Aghamalian was convicted as an accessory for helping set on fire a car belonging to a nightclub owner. The 42-year-old now owns a solar energy company and is married with newborn twins.
The Democrat governor also pardoned 38-year old Victor Ayala who was convicted of felony robbery in 2001 at the age of 21 when he pushed a security guard as he was shoplifting from an electronics store, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Ayala, who was sentenced to probation for the crime, also had four prior misdemeanor convictions for theft and a hit-and-run, KTLA-TV reported. The father of three, who now owns a carpet-cleaning business, was brought legally into the U.S. from El Salvador at the age of 2 by his parents.
Another man, 41-year-old Thear Seam, was also pardoned by Newsom.
Escaping as a Cambodian refugee, Seam came to the U.S. legally as a 4-year-old and has worked at an aviation company for 17 years. His wife and daughter are both U.S. citizens, KTLA reported.
Seam, who was convicted of robbing a man’s wallet and backpack, was then convicted the following year as an accessory for helping a car thief and leading police on a high-speed chase.
Besides the three immigrants, Newsom commuted sentences for two men and pardoned a fourth, 59-year-old Curtis Reynolds of Sacramento County. According to the governor’s office, Reynolds served multiple sentences for six drug felonies including possession for sale between 1998 and 2003.
The governor’s office noted that the men had taken steps to rehabilitate themselves while serving their sentences as he commuted the sentences for Esdvin Flores, 44, and Jensen Ramos, 35. Flores robbed a woman at gunpoint when he was 23 years old and served 20 years behind bars.
Ramos was 17 years old when he was convicted for attempted murder. He served 17 years behind bars before Newsom commuted his sentence. He is now a lead trainer in the Paws for Life rescue dog training program.
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