California governor pardons Vietnamese American man at risk of deportation

By Nguyen Quy   August 12, 2019 | 01:24 am PT
California governor pardons Vietnamese American man at risk of deportation
Immigrants partake in a naturalization ceremony to become U.S. citizens. Photo by Reuters/Brendan McDermid.
A governor’s pardon might save a Vietnamese American man in California from deportation by federal immigration agents.

Quoc Nguyen, 37, who entered the U.S. as a refugee when he was at 10 but faced federal removal orders for his adult criminal convictions, was among seven people pardoned last week by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Nguyen had been sentenced to seven years in prison for a 2004 assault with a deadly weapon and completed his sentence in 2012, according to the pardon. 

His criminal record had put him at risk of possible deportation in a crackdown by the U.S. government that is seeking to deport immigrants with criminal records who have green cards, but never became naturalized U.S. citizens, even if they’d already served their sentences.

Nguyen spent a year and a half in prison and nearly three more years on parole. He has since "demonstrated that he is living an upright life," the governor’s office wrote.

He has a stable job that allows him to support his elderly mother and his girlfriend, who is completing a nursing course, a spokeswoman from Newsom’s office told the Los Angeles Times.

The pardon may allow Nguyen and six others with convictions for low-level drug-related offenses to avoid deportation.

Last year, three Vietnamese American men detained by U.S. immigration for deportation were pardoned by the then Californian governor Jerry Brown.

The pardons by the Democratic governors are seen as a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s tightened immigration policies.

As of December last year, there were 8,600 Vietnamese nationals in the United States subject to the administration's deportation policy.

The U.S. and Vietnam had reached a bilateral agreement in 2008, stating that Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam if they arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995.

The White House’s deportation policy was in breach of this agreement.

Around 12 Vietnamese immigrants have already been sent back home and many others have been kept in detention by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for months awaiting deportation, a New York Times report said.

Nearly 1.3 million Vietnamese citizens have immigrated to the U.S. the end of the Vietnam War and obtained green cards. However, many of them are yet to become permanent U.S. citizens, due to the lack of education, language skills or legal help to complete the procedures of obtaining citizenship.

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