Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation
Lima-Marin’s wife, Jasmine, speaking Friday at a news conference, said the turn of events was very unexpected.
Lima-Marin’s husband, who came to the United States from Cuba as a baby during the Mariel boat lift in 1980, faces deportation.
Meyer said it will be a miscarriage of justice if Lima-Marin is deported to Cuba, a country he barely knows.
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.
“This was a question of justice”, Gov. John Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference, noting that 98 of the 100 members of the state Assembly had backed a motion calling for Lima-Marin’s pardon.
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 United States government on him being included on a list of people to be deported.
Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison.
Lima-Marin, who was just 18 at the time, was sentenced to the lengthy term before being mistakenly released on parole in 2008. He then held a steady job installing glass, got married and has a stepson, Justus, 10, and son JoJo, 7, who was born while he was out of prison.
Lima-Marin was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, mistakenly released in 2008 and then ordered back to prison in 2014.
Officials say more than 36,000 Cubans are facing orders of deportation for conviction of crimes or immigration violations. 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.
An attorney for Lima-Marin, Hans Meyer, said shortly after the governor’s announcement that he spoke with Lima-Marin, who reacted “stunned”.
“We understand that pardons are an extraordinary remedy, but this is an extraordinary case, extraordinary circumstances and an extraordinary family”, Meyer said, urging Hickenlooper to pardon his client.
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.
Brauchler said he would not “issue a pardon intended exclusively to defeat federal immigration law”. There is no timetable on when a federal judge could determine his removal, ICE representative Carl Rusnok said Thursday.
His lawyers appealed, and this week Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour ordered Lima-Marin’s release, citing his successful rehabilitation.
“We can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster this family has endured”, Hickenlooper said. “This is a tremendous first step”.
Lima-Marin is the Cuban-born, USA -raised man who was convicted in 2000 of multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary counts.
“If all these things hadn’t changed under Trump I could think that it’s a misunderstanding that would be cleared up. 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.
Brauchler, who is running for governor in the next election, also provided what he labeled a “trophy photo” of Lima Marin and his co-defendant, posing with weapons and cash after after the robberies they were convicted of.
However, Lima-Marin was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement just when he thought he was getting his freedom back.
He remained on the ICE hold as of Wednesday evening, and the Denver Post reports that immigration authorities indicated that he could be deported.
Lima-Marin’s immigration situation has been complicated by the shifting USA policy toward Cuba.
His wife, Jasmine, said she remains hopeful the family will be reunited “sooner rather than later”.
1995 President Bill Clinton enacts the “wet foot, dry foot” policy allowing Cubans who reach the United States to remain in the country.