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CT’s pardon process affirmed, resident avoids deportation in court decision

Attorney General William Tong.
Molly Ingram
Attorney General William Tong.

A recent decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm the legitimacy of Connecticut’s pardoning process is also keeping a pardoned permanent resident from being deported.

For years, federal authorities have approached Connecticut deportation cases with harsher treatment because of a technicality in the state’s pardon process. The state issues pardons from a board appointed by the governor rather than the governor directly.

This technicality is what has kept Kimanie Graham’s case in limbo, though he received a pardon for his crimes from Connecticut more than three years ago.

When the federal government deemed Connecticut’s pardoning process illegitimate with two other residents, Attorney General William Tong sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

Tong won that case, and both residents were pardoned in 2019. He continued to push for full recognition of Connecticut’s pardon process and reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut last year.

Based on that agreement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has sent Graham’s case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to once again be opened for review based on his pardon.

“This decision affirms once again that Connecticut’s pardons count,” Tong said.

“Based on our agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, it is my hope that the Board of Immigration Appeals will rescind its removal order and allow Graham to remain here, at home, with his wife and children,” he added.

Eda Uzunlar is WSHU's Poynter Fellow for Media and Journalism.