In an unusual move, President Barack Obama granted An Na Peng, an Honolulu resident and a Chinese national, a pardon of her felony crime, paving the way for her to remain in the United States and seek out US citizenship.
Granting pardons in general has become a rarity for the Obama administration, prompting one observer to comment that President Obama is “among the most merciless presidents in the history of the United States.”
Last Friday Obama did, however give 17 pardons, but among those there was an even more unusual case: a pardon which was primarily given to solve the applicant’s immigration problems.
In 1996 Peng was convicted on a single felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She and several others were found to have given correct answers or changing answers on naturalization exams to help the candidates for citizenship pass. Peng did this as an employee of a company which the INS used to administer the tests. According to a brief filed by Peng’s lawyer, Maile Hirota, Peng did not receive any monetary compensation for her actions.
Peng applied for the Presidential pardon to avoid deportation back to China. She has a family here in the US, including a husband, also Chinese, and two children, one of which has autism.