Immigration officers detain man whose prison term was cut

Pierre Vaugeois
Mai 19, 2017

A suburban Denver robbery-kidnapping convict has been ordered released from prison after being mistakenly freed decades early, then re-incarcerated.

Aarapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. agreed, saying in the 165-page decision, "It would be utterly unjust to compel Lima-Marin, at this juncture, to serve the rest of his extremely long sentence".

A Colorado man whose 98-year prison term was cut short by a judge has been detained by immigration officials just as he was set to be released.

"And now you're punishing them for something that they didn't have anything to do with", said Rene Lima-Marin. Instead, he called her to tell her he was being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Everyone is completely devastated".

Lima-Marin's attorney Kimberly Diego says Lima-Marin came to the US from Cuba at the age of 2 during the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Lima-Marin had been sentenced in 2000 to 98 years for a litany of offenses stemming from a pair of video store robberies, but an error on his paperwork resulted in his 2008 parole. He was mistakenly released on parole in 2008. He was mistakenly released in 2008, then held a steady job, got married and had a son.

But in 2014, when police realized their mistake, Lima-Marin was picked up and returned to prison.

"Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice", Samour wrote in his decision.

Lima-Marin's life, however, was interrupted in January 2014, when a former prosecutor searched for his name in the Department of Corrections' inmate locator and discovered that Lima-Marin's name did not show up. According to Lima-Marin's father, his son became a legal resident when they reached American shores, but he never applied for USA citizenship.

The so-called "wet foot, dry foot" policy sent back Cubans intercepted at sea but gave those who reached land an automatic path to legal residency. Seventeen have been deported since October 2016, and 123 have been deported since October 2014, less than three months before President Barack Obama announced the beginning of normalization of relations with Cuba. He has not yet said publicly whether he meant to reverse specific policies.

Gov. John Hickenlooper released a statement about Lima-Marin's situation on Wednesday: "The family has shown fantastic strength and we hope this is a temporary stop on his way to being reunited with his family".

Rene Lima-Marin, 38, was released to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Denver on Wednesday, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

"We can't imagine the emotional roller coaster this family has endured", Hickenlooper said. "The family has shown unbelievable strength and we hope this is a temporary stop on his way to being reunited with his family".

Lima-Marin's co-defendant, Michael Clifton, is serving a 98-year sentence.

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