DENVER (AP) — 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.
Rene Lima-Marin was a toddler when his parents entered the U.S. as part of the 1980 Mariel boatlift. He was a legal resident of the United States. But that was revoked after his conviction in an armed robbery case in 2000.
Lima-Marin had initially been mistakenly released from Colorado state prison on parole in 2008, married and worked regularly installing glass. The authorities sent him back to prison in 2014, and a judge ruled this week that Lima-Marin deserved to be released.
But before he could return to his family, ICE detained him, citing the deportation order from 2000. His lawyers said a pardon was his only chance to stave off deportation.
"This was a question of justice," 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. "This was a pretty clear example of someone who's done all the work necessary to earn a second chance."
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It's unclear whether the governor's action will be enough to stop Lima-Marin's deportation.
"I'm not a lawyer," Hickenlooper said when asked whether the pardon would be enough.
Hans Meyer, Rene-Marin's lawyer, said he'd file motions to try to vacate the federal government's deportation order. "We're incredibly grateful to the governor for a just and fair solution," he said.