Foster Pepper is pleased to announce that Governor Inslee granted a pardon earlier this month to Mr. Roeuth An, a Foster Pepper pro bono client. NBC News featured Mr. An’s story in an article discussing Foster Pepper’s representation; to read the article, please click here.
Mr. An came to the United States when he was seven years old after fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia with his family. As a refugee, Mr. An was eligible for U.S. citizenship, however, he never completed the full process to become a citizen. At the age of 21, he pleaded guilty to three counts of second degree assault for his role as an accomplice in a drive-by shooting for which he served 18 months in prison. While in prison, he learned that he was not an American citizen and was told he would be deported to Cambodia after serving his sentence.
At the time, Cambodia was refusing to accept most U.S. deportees. As a result, Mr. An was allowed to stay in the United States after his release from prison, provided that he regularly check-in with immigration authorities, which he did consistently. For the past 18 years, he has been steadily employed as an electrician, has had zero subsequent criminal history and even started a family. However, by the start of 2018, Mr. An’s check-ins with immigration authorities had moved from every six months to monthly. He and his wife feared the worst and were put in contact with Foster Pepper attorneys Joanne Kalas and Andrea Bradford, who submitted a petition for a pardon in August 2018.
Mr. An was taken into ICE custody on September 14, 2018. Two weeks before his scheduled pardon hearing, Mr. An learned his deportation was planned for mid-December, a few days after his scheduled pardon hearing. Ms. Bradford and Ms. Kalas sought emergency relief from the Governor requesting a pardon without a hearing and based solely on the pardon petition submissions. Four days later, Governor Inslee signed the pardon.
Mr. An’s case is now being handled by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), which is working to reopen immigration proceedings and to vacate Mr. An’s deportation order. Thanks to Governor Inslee’s prompt action and NWIRP, Mr. An now has a chance to stay in the United States with his family.
This is the third pardon Foster Pepper’s pro bono program has helped achieve for immigrant clients. Foster Pepper was proud to represent Mr. An and looks forward to continuing its support of the Seattle Clemency Project.