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Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation

Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation

Though born in Havana, Lima-Marin, now 38, came to the US when he was about 2 years old in the Mariel boatlift that brought roughly 125,000 refugees to Florida in 1980.

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 USA government on him being included on a list of people to be deported.

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.

18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler was highly critical of the governor's decision to pardon Lima-Marin.

He was jailed after a string of video store robberies in the late 1990s and sentenced to almost 100 years in prison.

Lima-Marin was sent back to prison.

Federal immigration authorities say a Colorado man ordered to be re-released from prison after a huge mix up is facing possible deportation to Cuba.

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The Colorado House of Representatives, for instance, approved a resolution last month urging the governor to grant clemency to Lima-Marin. 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.

Citing Lima-Marin's "potential to live as a law-abiding, productive member of our community", Hickenlooper pardoned him on Friday.

In the meantime, because Lima-Marin was a legal resident and not a US citizen, he had had been checking in with ICE because he was flagged for deportation, said Celesté Martinez of Together for Colorado.

"We've been working on this for so many months and we have a list of pardons that are people who are already free that are not in danger of being re-arrested or deported", Hickenlooper said.

"Colorado law requires the governor to provide 14 days for relevant parties - including the district attorney and sentencing judge - to respond to an application for a pardon".

"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. Hickenlooper's pardon does not affect a 2000 removal order from an immigration judge, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok told CNN.

ICE custody pending his removal to Cuba since he is on the Cuban Repatriation List, and he now has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge. But Lima-Marin's lawyer advised him not to appeal - and the mistake remained and he was released on parole in 2008.

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"I'm grateful to Governor Hickenlooper for his incredible act of mercy and humanitarian relief to Rene and his family", Williams said in a statement. "This is a tremendous first step".

In 2000, Lima-Marin was convicted of aggravated robbery with intent to kill, kidnapping and other charges stemming from a crime spree that he and an accomplice committed in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

"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.

"If all these things hadn't changed under Trump I could think that it's a misunderstanding that would be cleared up. I just got off the phone with his wife, who, needless to say was ecstatic".

His co-defendant, Michael Clifton, is serving 98 years in prison for the same crimes.

He remained on the ICE hold as of Wednesday evening, and the Denver Post reports that immigration authorities indicated that he could be deported. But at the time, Cuba would not accept any additional people who had arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees. But ICE can request that an inmate suspected of an immigration violation be held after their release from jail or prison under a form referred to as a hold or a detainer.

His wife, Jasmine, said she remains hopeful the family will be reunited "sooner rather than later".

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With President Barack Obama ending the "wet foot, dry foot" policy for Cubans in January, the man's life is back in limbo.


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