Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation

Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation

Colorado's governor on Friday pardoned a Cuban immigrant who had been mistakenly freed from prison, returned and then set free this week only to be held by immigration authorities for deportation.

The pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was the latest twist in the saga of Rene Lima-Marin, 38.

1980 — Rene Lima-Marin leaves Cuba as a toddler with his parents in what would become known as the Mariel boat lift after Fidel Castro announced the country would stop trying to prevent unauthorized departures. After he rebuilt his life, becoming a glazier and a husband and father to two sons, almost six years after his release officials discovered a clerical error - he was supposed to serve his sentences consecutively, not concurrently - and threw Lima-Marin back in prison.

"After its utter lack of care led to Lima-Marin's premature release and prolonged erroneous liberty, in January 2014, the government chose to compensate for its transgressions by swiftly turning back the clock and returning Lima-Marin to prison. disregarding everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014", Samour said.

The wife of a Cuban immigrant set to rejoin his family after he was mistakenly released from prison, then put back, says she would uproot her life in Colorado to go with him.

Lima-Marin's family expected to celebrate his return to freedom earlier this week, but instead learned that he had been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Hickenlooper also pointed to a near-unanimous support for clemency for Lima-Marin in a resolution the General Assembly passed last month, and noted the state's judicial branch also supported a pardon. Though the legal roots of Lima-Marin's deportation order stretch back to actions of the Obama administrations, his detention comes as the Trump administration has moved aggressively to speed up deportations, sometimes sparking clashes with local officials.

"We were convinced this was the right thing to do", Hickenlooper said in a news conference at the state Capitol. "This was a pretty clear example of someone who's done all the work necessary to earn a second chance".

It's not clear whether Lima-Marin, who was ordered deported while in prison, will be returned there since Cuba would still need to agree with the US government on him being included on a list of people to be deported.

"I'm not a lawyer", Hickenlooper said when asked whether the pardon would be enough.

Jason Kasperek, the assistant manager at a video store that Rene Lima-Marin and an accomplice robbed in 1998, said Lima-Marin should be back in prison.

Hans Meyer, Lima-Marin's lawyer, said he'd file motions to vacate that order.

In a statement, Williams said he was grateful to the governor "for his incredible act of mercy and humanitarian relief to Rene and his family".

"This is a tremendous first step", Meyer said.

"I just think that it's scandalous how he used the system", Kasperek said of Lima-Marin, recalling how the robbers held a rifle to his head as they forced him to open the store safe. "It's unjust for all victims who have been involved in it". He got a job, married his high school sweetheart, Jasmine Lima-Marin, had two children, bought a home and encouraged youth in his community to follow a path different from the one he chose.

In 2000, the man was sentenced to 98 years in prison for armed robbery. "Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice".

Rene Lima-Marin's wife was ready to pick him up from prison. Authorities discovered the same error that led to Lima-Marin's mistaken release in Clifton's paperwork but corrected it when he appealed his sentence. But at the time, Cuba would not accept any additional people who had arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees.

Rene Lima-Marin, his wife, Jasmine, and his sons JoJo and Justus are pictured in this family phtograph.

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