Will Cuban Immigration Lima-Marin’s Luck Eventually Run Out?
A former inmate who was mistakenly released from prison in 2008 evidently still has some good luck on his side. Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant, won dismissal of his deportation case that sought to send him back to his home country. If the government decides not to file an appeal, Lima-Marin “walks free and we put the nightmare behind us,” said his attorney Aaron Elinoff.
Lima-Marin, along with this accomplice Michael Clifton, was originally put behind bars for committing two video store robberies at the age of 19. Prosecutors got the long sentence they sought because a gun was used in both, although Lima-Marin said it wasn’t loaded. The crime was also broken down in court action by action and included a kidnapping charge, which was based on the way the employees were moved by the burglars from one room to another. Lima-Marin was mistakenly paroled in 2008 after a clerk listed his sentences as running concurrently, rather than consecutively.
A free man for nearly six years before the mistake was caught, the immigrant seemingly completely reinvented himself. Lima-Marin married, became a father of two, became active in his church, and secured a job installing glass windows in skyscrapers. He was then suddenly sent back to prison in 2014.
Earlier this year, however, Chief District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. of Arapahoe County ruled that it would be “draconian” and a “manifest injustice” to require Lima-Marin to remain in prison for the rest of his 98-year sentence giving the drastic changes he had made in his life since he was set free. Samour ruled that keeping Lima-Marin in prison violated his right to due process “based on the unique and exceptional circumstances involved in this case.” The judge ruled in favor of Lima-Marin in May, releasing him, but he was immediately arrested by immigration authorities.
The former inmate initially came to the United States when he was just a toddler with his parents on the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba. In January of this year, former President Barack Obama ended a “wet foot-dry foot” policy that protected Cuban immigrants who arrived in the U.S., exposing them to possible deportation.
In April, the Colorado House approved a bipartisan resolution encouraging Governor John Hickenlooper to grant Lima-Marin clemency. The state Senate then did the same. The joint legislative resolution stated: “Lima-Marin is deserving of clemency by the governor due to the dramatic positive changes he has made in his life.”
“Without Governor Hickenlooper’s pardon this would not have been possible,” Elinoff said.
The decision to dismiss the case against the Cuban immigrant could reunite Lima-Marin with his wife, Jasmine, and his two sons Justus, 10, and Josiah, 7, but Jasmine remains hesitant to be too hopeful given everything the family has already been through. “I’m just waiting,” she said, “just waiting to see what happens and hoping he comes home…I won’t be saying anything to the boys until he’s actually out of the facility.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have thirty days to appeal the dismissal. An official indicated the agency was working on a response and said that Lima-Marin would remain in custody until a decision is made.