Refugee Finds New Hope Through Pardon by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Advocacy of Joseph, Hollander & Craft

Published: 6 July 2021

                    hiep xuan le before and after

A Full and Unconditional Pardon

A full and unconditional pardon was the only way that Joseph, Hollander & Craft Kansas criminal defense client Hiep Xuan Le (aka Xuan Hiep Le) could remain in the United States with his family without fear of being deported. On Thursday, June 24, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly granted Mr. Le’s request. Of the over 200 individuals who had submitted applications for clemency, Governor Kelly granted only eight.

Mr. Le was represented by Kansas criminal defense attorneys Christopher Joseph and Carrie Parker of Joseph, Hollander & Craft. Upon hearing the news of his pardon, Mr. Le told them he jumped and cried with joy: “All the years of fearing deportation and being sent far away from my loved ones is being replaced with happiness and assurance that I can be here for my family,” he said. “All [of this is] thanks to your hard work and caring.”

The Looming Threat of Deportation

In the early 1990s, Mr. Le was convicted of robbery. He was only a teenager at the time of the offense. He served a sentence of imprisonment, and, upon his release, was an example of reform and rehabilitation. He started businesses that offered employment to others. He established a family of his own while caring for his parents. He gained the respect and good will of his community. And his convictions were ultimately expunged.

Had Mr. Le been a United States citizen, he could have taken comfort in the future he had built for himself and his family. But, because he was not a U.S. citizen, he was subject to an order of removal from this country. Although the bilateral agreement between the United States and Vietnam (Mr. Le’s country of citizenship) blocked authorities from acting on the deportation order, it was subject to change at any time. The only way to ensure Mr. Le could remain in the U.S. was to obtain a pardon and seek relief from the deportation order.

A Model of Rehabilitation

Few could have been more deserving of such relief than Mr. Le, who is an example of reform and rehabilitation. While in prison, Mr. Le took trade courses and developed handyman skills. He further honed those skills upon his release and used them to start what grew into multiple successful businesses.

While Mr. Le was building his businesses, he was also building a family. In November 2007, he married his lovely wife, an architect, and the couple welcomed a child a few years later.

Mr. Le made the absolute best of his post-prison life. Without a pardon, the decades Mr. Le spent building and improving his life, contributing to his community, and supporting his family would have been brought to nothing the day the status quo changed.

A Merciful Result

Immigration law subjected Mr. Le to the harsh possibility of removal to Vietnam—decades after he left as a refugee. He was at the mercy of Governor Kelly to grant a full and unconditional pardon to avoid removal. Chris Joseph and Carrie Parker tenaciously advocated that Governor Kelly exercise her clemency authority in Mr. Le’s case. To the great relief and delight of Mr. Le, his loved ones, and JHC’s criminal defense team, the Governor graciously granted Mr. Le the relief for which he and his family had been hoping.

About Joseph, Hollander & Craft Lawyers and Counselors

Joseph, Hollander & Craft is a premier litigation firm in Kansas and Missouri. From our offices in Kansas City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Topeka and Wichita, the firm’s attorneys aggressively represent individuals in cases across Kansas and Missouri. The firm serves clients whose legal needs include criminal defense, family law, business litigation, personal injury, cannabis business licensing and regulatory compliance, medical malpractice defense, insurance defense, regulatory defense, professional liability defense, professional licensing, health and hospital law. Its 21 attorneys represent clients in municipal, state, federal, and appellate courts and before administrative panels.

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