Obama pardons 17 convicts, the majority of whom faced sentences of probation, house arrest, or fines, rather than imprisonment. He used his power of clemency on Friday to enact the pardons. Among the 17 is An Na Peng—her crime was helping immigrants cheat to pass naturalization tests; she faced deportation and separation from her U.S.-born children.
As President Barack Obama pardons 17 convicts, the story of one emerges.
An Na Peng faced deportation—her crime was helping immigrants cheat to pass naturalization tests.
She arrived legally in the United States in 1991 from China as a Landed Permanent Resident (LPR). She has two children born as American Citizens.
She worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s, during which time it was found she and her colleagues had provided answers to examinees and changed their answers to help them pass naturalization tests, according to court documents.
At the time of her indictment, she had no fear of being deported if convicted.
The law at that time stated that only someone who served five years imprisonment for an aggravated felony was subject to deportation without being eligible for a waiver.
The laws changed multiple times, however, from the time of her indictment to the time of her sentencing, bringing her closer and closer each time to deportation and separation from her husband and children.
Just before her trial in 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The AEDPA included crimes of moral turpitude as warranting deportation. Peng’s crime was one of moral turpitude, so a conviction would make her subject to deportation—but the hope remained, as she was still eligible to apply for a waiver to avoid deportation.
On May 9, 1996, a jury found Peng guilty.
In September of 1996, while she awaited sentencing, Congress enacted yet another reform. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) added a requirement that in order to qualify for a waiver, the convict must prove seven years of continuous presence in the country.
Peng had not been in the United States continuously for seven years, and thus faced deportation.
The Chinese immigrant made appeals at various levels and from various angles. Her case was still open for review as of 2011, according to a 2011 Board of Immigration Appeals document, which concludes: “The petition for review is granted, and this case is remanded to allow Peng a continuance to apply for the former 212(c) waiver of removal.”
President Barack Obama’s presidential pardon set Peng free on Friday, along with 17 other convicts.
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