Colo. gov. pardons man mistakenly paroled 90 years early, still faces deportation

DENVER — Colorado’s governor on Friday pardoned a Cuban immigrant for an armed robbery he committed 19 years ago in an effort stave off the man’s deportation after immigration authorities detained him following a judge’s ruling that he should no longer be imprisoned. 

The pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was the latest twist in the saga of Rene Lima-Marin, 38. He came to the U.S. as a toddler as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba and had legal residency until it was revoked following his 2000 criminal conviction. Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery. But he was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008.

Lima-Marin married, had a child and got a steady job installing glass before state authorities realized their mistake in 2014 and sent him back for the remainder of his 98-year prison sentence.

A Colorado judge earlier this week ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him incarcerated. But before he could return to his family, immigration authorities picked him up, citing a still-active deportation order from 2000. His lawyers said a pardon was his only chance to stave off deportation.

Lima-Marin’s case became a bipartisan cause celebre this week in Colorado, as 98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, called on Hickenlooper to pardon him. 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.

“This was a question of justice,” Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. “This was a pretty clear example of someone who’s done all the work necessary to earn a second chance.”

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…

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