Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he had granted a pardon to Daniel Maher, the recycling program director at Berkeley’s Ecology Center, along with 55 other people.
Maher, who immigrated to California from Macau at age 2, was arrested and sentenced in 1995 on charges of robbery, kidnapping, felon in possession of a firearm and use of a firearm, causing him to lose his green card and thus putting him at risk for deportation, according to KQED.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Maher served five years in prison before being released early for good behavior and spending three years on parole.
Maher has worked as the director of the recycling program at the Ecology Center for the past 10 years. Maher also trains low-income youth for jobs in the recycling industry, which he hopes will “make amends for past mistakes,” according to Anoop Prasad, one of Maher’s lawyers at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.
According to a statement released by the Ecology Center, in 2015, Maher was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, but was released after the Asian Law Caucus filed a lawsuit. After his release, however, deportation still remained a possibility for Maher.
“He has shown that since his release from custody, he has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen,” Brown said in a statement.
Jacinda Abcarian, development director of the Ecology Center, said in an email that the center is “thrilled and gratified” by the pardon, which addresses his pending deportation order by allowing his lawyers to seek immigration relief for him.
When asked how he and his loved ones felt about the pardon in an interview with NBC Bay Area, Maher called the pardon “a huge big deal” and added that his “entire family cried.”
The Asian Law Caucus has drafted and is co-sponsoring a state bill — referred to as AB 2845 and authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta — to “put systemic changes in place for future Gubernatorial administrations that will improve the transparency, efficiency, and accessibility of the pardon process.”
On Saturday, President Donald Trump voiced opposition to Brown’s pardoning of several individuals in a tweet.
“Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want?” Trump said in the tweet.
The Ecology Center said in a statement that people like Maher, who made mistakes but have tried to redeem themselves by doing good, are “vital to the fabric of our communities.”
“Our communities are stronger when we believe in compassion and second chances,” Prasad said. “We will continue fighting for freedom of all immigrants.”