By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — A Lebanese immigrant facing deportation is seeking a pardon from the Executive Council so he can remain in this country.
At the council’s meeting on Wednesday, councilors tabled the request so they could learn more about Alain T. Ata’s situation before deciding whether to hold a pardon hearing.
District 3 Executive Councilor Russ Prescott, R-Kingston, urged his colleagues to “at least give him a public hearing so he can plead his case and not be deported out of the country.”
Ata, 34, owns Ata Boy’s Auto Service LLC in Manchester, and said in his pardon petition he needs to continue to remain in this country and work to help support his elderly parents and continue his life with his fiancee.
Ata was convicted in 2005 in Rockingham County Superior Court of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and two counts of receiving stolen property as a result of a forced break-in at a Salem home the year before.
Ata was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in jail and served over two years before he was paroled.
“As a business owner in New Hampshire, receiving a pardon will allow me to get back my green card, which in turn will allow me to apply for a REAL ID,” Ata wrote to councilors. “Currently, I hold an employment authorization card which expires yearly as well as my driver’s license.”
Prescott said Ata’s deportation will happen this year unless he is pardoned and that could happen as soon as this month.
He said Ata’s immediate family is here and he has no family in Lebanon, where he would be returned if he is deported.
Ata is not eligible for an annulment.
“At a young age, he made a mistake and served time in jail for that,” Prescott said. “His case will be very compelling.”
In his petition, Ata says he made a mistake and did not act wisely when he was young.
“Young people often make mistakes. They’re usually afforded a second chance in life,” he wrote. “I have put my past behind me long ago. I am a totally different person than who I was in my adolescence and I will always continue to strive to become smarter and wiser.”
Ata, his siblings and his parents left war-torn Lebanon in the mid-1980s. The other members of his family have become United States citizens, but he has not due to his conviction.
The Rockingham County Attorney, which prosecuted Ata’s cases, recommends against a pardon.
Assistant County Attorney William Pate wrote that Ata has had additional criminal charges since his 2005 conviction, including two charges of threatening in 2008, a 2013 conviction for drunk driving with seriously bodily injury, and a 2017 violation of an abuse prevention order.
Prescott said if the council did not want to grant a hearing, he urged them to table the request until they could learn more about Ata.
The council voted 4-1 to table the request and is expected to revisit the issue in two weeks.
Former State Police Commander and current Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner Bob Quinn is Gov. Chris Sununu’s choice to head the Department of Safety.
Quinn, who lives in Seabrook, would replace commissioner John Barthelmes who will retire at the end of the month.
Sununu nominated Quinn at Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting, along with Perry Plummer of Dover, the director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to be Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner.
Sununu also renominated Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner Richard Bailey of Bow.
The Executive Council will hold a public hearing on Quinn’s nomination but has yet to set a date.
If confirmed, Quinn’s salary would be $139, 007, and Bailey and Plummer would earn $131,357.
Also, at Wednesday’s council meeting, Jane Young of Auburn was confirmed to a four-year term as Deputy Attorney General at a salary of $131,375.
Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org