KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Michigan officials received a request to pardon a Polish-born doctor who legally came to the U.S. as a child but faces deportation because of misdemeanor convictions 25 years ago.
Gov. Rick Snyder received the request on behalf of Lukasz Niec and forwarded it to the Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Board, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported Wednesday. He was arrested Jan. 16 for "administrative immigration violations."
Niec was released on a $10,000 bond last week but awaits removal proceedings. Federal immigration officials say the 43-year-old Kalamazoo doctor can be deported for the 1992 convictions dating to when he was in high school.
The convictions were for malicious destruction of property and receiving stolen goods. Relatives say Niec pleaded guilty through a program to help young offenders and was told it wouldn't be used in a deportation, and Niec has said he made mistakes when he was young and has turned around his life.
The agency has said he came under scrutiny after more than a dozen "encounters with local law enforcement," mostly involving driving infractions, after the convictions. He was charged in 2013 with domestic violence but was acquitted.
Niec's attorney, Russell Abrutyn, confirmed to The Associated Press that he submitted the request in relation to the convictions. He said pardons can affect deportation proceedings.
"There's a statute that's part of the deportation code that provides full and unconditional pardon by the president or governor that can waive or avoid certain deportation grounds," Abrutyn said, adding that he believes such an executive action would exempt Niec from removal.
Abrutyn said Niec's plan was to return to work but the attorney doesn't know if that's happened. He also doesn't know when Niec's next court hearing will be.
Bronson Healthcare, which owns the hospital where Niec works, released a statement after his arrest, saying it "simply does not make sense" to lock up a "skilled and caring physician." Niec has been on the Bronson staff since 2007.
Niec and his wife both have a daughter from a previous relationship. They married in July 2016.
Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo