Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper heeded the call of lawyers and activists who asked him to intervene in the case of Rene Lima-Marin, the man who was awarded his freedom Tuesday, only to be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Wednesday and detained for deportation.
Hickenlooper pardoned Lima-Marin on Friday but said he does not yet know if that would help the man win his fight to stay in the United States, ABC Denver reports.
As previously reported on The Root, Lima-Martin, 38, was sentenced to 98 years in prison for robbing two video stores in 1998, and CNN reports that he was released improperly from prison in 2008. He was rearrested in 2014 when authorities discovered their mistake.
Lima-Marin was free for six years, and during that time he found a job, got married, started a family and bought a home, his attorney Kimberly Diego said.
On Tuesday, in a 165-page decision, Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said, “It would be utterly unjust to compel Lima-Marin, at this juncture, to serve the rest of his extremely long sentence,” and granted Lima-Marin his freedom. He was scheduled to be released from prison and return to his family Wednesday.
On the day he was to be released from prison per the judge’s order, Lima-Marin was taken into custody by ICE.
Lima-Marin was on the Colorado Department of Corrections list of undocumented immigrants that is turned over to the federal government annually, and he remained in the ICE hold as of Friday.
In an emailed statement to the Denver Post Wednesday night, ICE said that Lima-Marin was “ordered removed” by a federal immigration judge in Denver years ago—on Nov. 1, 2000, and earlier Wednesday, after Lima-Marin had been released from his Colorado sentence, ICE officials took him into custody “pending his removal to Cuba.”
“We can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster this family has endured,” Hickenlooper said. “The Colorado Department of Corrections did what was required by law and released Mr. Lima-Marin to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The family has shown amazing strength, and we hope this is a temporary stop on his way to being reunited with his family.”
Hickenlooper’s pardon was done publicly in a late-afternoon press conference, and he said that while he supports Lima-Marin, he isn’t certain that the move will help him win his battle to win freedom from immigration authorities.
“He has become a law-abiding member of his community,” Hickenlooper said, noting that he thought the judge who made the decision to release Lima-Marin from prison was “right when he said the suffering he endured was not only draconian, but was a deprivation of his constitutional rights.”
Hickenlooper personally made the call to Lima-Marin’s wife, Jasmine, to tell her that her husband had been pardoned, and he said that she was ecstatic to hear the news.