Gov. Newsom Pardons Vietnamese Immigrant in Santa Clara County Facing Deportation for Old Conviction

Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen at a news conference in February 2019. (Credit: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen at a news conference in February 2019. (Credit: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

A Vietnamese immigrant facing possible deportation for a 15-year-old gang crime is among seven people pardoned Wednesday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Clemency may allow Quoc Nguyen, 37, to avoid deportation, the governor said.

Nguyen, who was brought to the U.S. legally when he was 10, was sentenced to seven years in prison for a 2004 assault with a deadly weapon.

It was his only arrest. Since being released, the Santa Clara County man hasn’t had any other arrests, keeps a stable home and job, supports his elderly mother and is supporting his girlfriend while she completes nursing school, the governor’s office said.

“His deportation would be an unjust collateral consequence that would harm his family and community,” the office said.

Pardons do not automatically protect someone from deportation because they don’t erase the criminal convictions on which deportation orders often are based. However, a grant of clemency does emphasize the person’s rehabilitation.

Newsom in May granted clemency to two men from Cambodia facing deportation and former Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned five Cambodian refugees who faced deportation last year.

The pardons by the Democratic governors are a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s administration, which has cracked down on immigrants who committed crimes.

Newsom’s highest profile use of his clemency powers came in March, when he placed a moratorium on executions for the 737 people on California’s death row. His action temporarily halted the death penalty in the state, but did not reduce death sentences.

Newsom on Wednesday also pardoned six other people who had convictions more than 15 years old — all but one of them for low-level drug-related offenses.

They include Susan Burton, 67, of Los Angeles County, who served time for drug sales in the 1980s and 1990s. The governor’s office said she turned to using and selling drugs after her 5-year-old son was hit and killed by a police car. After prison, she became a well-known East Los Angeles activist involved in creating transition homes to help women released from prison re-enter society. The office said she has helped more than 1,000 formerly incarcerated women.

The others are:

— Derrick Dickerson, 57, of Kern County. He was arrested in 1988 and sent to prison after trying to buy cocaine from an undercover officer.

— Fernando Garcia, 60, of Imperial County. He was convicted of driving under the influence in 1990 after his motorcycle struck and injured a pedestrian.

— Laurie Gardner, 41, of San Luis Obispo. She spent one day in jail on a 2004 conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale.

— David Goodman, 66, of Los Angeles County. A Canadian citizen, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail on a 1987 conviction for possessing cocaine.

— Richard Gower, 75, of Texas. In 1992, he was convicted in Contra Costa County of transportation and sale of drugs. The conviction was later dismissed.

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