But Brown calls this lawsuit a "publicity stunt" by the administration as it continues to push Trump's "America First" agenda.
Brown's office issued a brief statement regarding the decision to grant the 56 pardons, saying, "Those granted pardons all completed their sentences years ago and the majority were convicted of drug-related or other nonviolent crimes". Maher faced deportation to China.
"Pardons are not granted unless they are earned", the governor's office added. Chhan had served about a year in prison on a 2002 misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.
Those pardoned on Friday by Brown included Sokha Chhan and Phann Pheach, who face deportation to Cambodia, a country ruled in the 1970s by the genocidal Khmer Rouge.
According to KNBC, the pardon won't automatically stop deportation proceedings, but the men will no longer have the convictions that federal authorities used as the basis for their deportation. He is now in federal custody awaiting deportation.
Daniel Maher, who was also pardoned, served five years in prison after he was convicted in 1995 of kidnapping, robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Last year, he pardoned three veterans who had been deported to Mexico and in 2015, he pardoned a man who was fighting deportation after serving two decades for burglary and kidnapping, among other crimes.
Maher is now the recycling programme director of Ecology Centre, a non-profit based in Berkeley, California. Pheach served six months in jail after he was convicted of possessing drugs and obstructing a police officer in 2005, The Sacramento Bee reported.
For ex-convict immigrants, deportation is a severe punishment that is often unwarranted, said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, which seeks to change California's laws to help immigrants avoid deportation. Alaniz served time for vehicle theft; Pheach and Mena, for possession of a controlled substance for sale. Easter falls on Sunday.