You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation


Colorado's governor on Friday pardoned a Cuban immigrant for an armed robbery he committed 19 years ago in an effort stave off the man's deportation after immigration authorities detained him following a judge's ruling that he should no longer be imprisoned.

The pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was the latest twist in the saga of Rene Lima-Marin, 38. He came to the U.S. as a toddler as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba and had legal residency until it was revoked following his 2000 criminal conviction. Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery. But he was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008.

Lima-Marin married, had a child and got a steady job installing glass before state authorities realized their mistake in 2014 and sent him back for the remainder of his 98-year prison sentence.

A Colorado judge earlier this week ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be "draconian" to keep him incarcerated. But before he could return to his family, immigration authorities picked him up, citing a still-active deportation order from 2000. His lawyers said a pardon was his only chance to stave off deportation.

Lima-Marin's case has become a bipartisan cause celebre in Colorado, as 98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, called on Hickenlooper to grant him clemency. 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.

"This was a question of justice," Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. "This was a pretty clear example of someone who's done all the work necessary to earn a second chance."

It's unclear whether the governor's action will be enough to stop Lima-Marin's deportation.

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

District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office prosecuted Lima-Marin, said Hickenlooper did not give prosecutors time to review the pardon application as required by state law.

"The hasty decision to ignore state law was made seemingly to skirt federal law, and that is not an appropriate use of the governor's pardon power," said Brauchler, who is running for governor.

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for ICE, indicated that Hickenlooper's pardon would not be enough to stop the deportation.

"Rene Michael Lima Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge," he said in a statement.

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

"We're incredibly grateful to the governor for a just and fair solution," he said. "This is a tremendous first step."

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

"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. "I think it's completely ridiculous. It's unjust for all victims who have been involved in it."

The Blockbuster was one of two video stores that Lima-Marin and his accomplice Michael Clifton robbed. They were convicted on multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary counts. Clifton is still in prison, serving his 98-year sentence.

This is not Lima-Marin's first time in immigration detention. Though Trump has ordered immigration authorities to step up their enforcement of deportation orders, Lima-Marin's legal jeopardy actually stems from changes made by Obama.

After his 2008 parole, immigration authorities held Lima-Marin for 180 days. But at the time, Cuba would not accept any additional people who had arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees. As a result, Lima-Marin was released. He continued to check in with immigration authorities regularly, said his wife, Jasmine.

But when Obama in January ended the "wet foot-dry foot" policy that had protected Cuban immigrants who arrived from the island, it opened the door to additional Cubans from the Mariel boat lift to be deported.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Senior student barred from Christian school's graduation because she's pregnant
Senior student barred from Christian school's graduation because she's pregnant

Maddi Runkles is a senior at The Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland. >> Read more trending news With a 4.0 grade point average, athletics commitments and a leadership role in the school’s Key Club, she was all set to graduate this spring. Then came her son, Grayson. Runkles learned she was pregnant in January. The Heritage Academy...
Man ‘dared’ United crews to ‘drag him off’ flight
Man ‘dared’ United crews to ‘drag him off’ flight

People aboard a United Airlines plane chanted “lock him up” as a “disruptive man” was escorted off a flight, authorities said.  The flight from Shanghai to New Jersey was reportedly delayed for hours Sunday because a man allegedly commandeered a row of seats and wouldn’t get out of a seat that wasn’t his, ...
WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites
WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

A 3-year-old girl in Oregon awoke on May 13 to find herself unable to stand or use her arms. >> Read more trending news  Evelyn Lewis’ mother, Amanda Lewis, filmed her daughter’s failed attempts to stand with help from her husband.  WGHP reported that the parents took Evelyn to the emergency room, where a doctor...
The key spending cuts and increases in Trump's budget
The key spending cuts and increases in Trump's budget

The White House released more details of its federal budget proposal on Monday. It includes substantial cuts to Medicaid and other aid to the poor. Because it comes packaged with tax cuts, it assumes the economy will grow faster as a result and ultimately balance the budget by 2027. It is, however, unlikely to pass Congress as is.     ...
Musicians offer support for Ariana Grande, people of Manchester on social media
Musicians offer support for Ariana Grande, people of Manchester on social media

People have been praying and sending positive thoughts to Manchester since Monday night. Shortly after explosions were set off at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, people started sharing their support for the victims and Grande on social media. Her fellow music industry professionals and celebrities, including Cher, Katy Perry, Taylor...
More Stories