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Colorado governor pardons Cuban man to avoid deportation

May 20 (UPI) — Colorado’s governor pardoned a convicted armed robber who was mistakenly released from prison in hopes of preventing his deportation to his native Cuba.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the pardon of Rene Lima-Marin on Friday, citing the “extraordinary case” that saw Lima-Marin forge a new life as a father and a husband after he was mistakenly released from prison in 2008 and rearrested in 2014.

“In terms of rehabilitation, he demonstrated an ability to contribute to the fabric of his community and Colorado,” Hickenlooper said. “He rebuilt his life, he’s become a law-abiding, productive member of his community.”

Hickenlooper now hopes Lima-Marin won’t be deported but said the pardon “is the limit to my authority.”

Lima-Marin, 38, was released from prison earlier this week following a 165-page decision from Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. that determined “it would be utterly unjust” for him to serve the remainder of his 98-year prison sentence, stemming from a pair of video store robberies in 1998.

Days after his release he was taken into custody by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Rene Michael Lima-Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge,” ICE said.

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok added Hickenlooper’s pardon does not affect a 2000 removal order from an immigration judge.

“Rene’s immigration fight is still not over,” Lima-Marin’s immigration lawyer, Hans Meyer, said. “We hope that ICE will work with us to release Rene from custody and allow us to reopen his immigration case, restore his lawful permanent status, and reunite [him] with his family. Thanks to this important step by the governor, we are one step closer to reuniting Rene with his wife and children.”

Lima-Marin was born in Havana, Cuba but came to the United States along with 125,000 refugees during the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Since then, Meyer said he has been a a lawful permanent resident.

“Cuba is not his home,” Meyer said. “The United States of America is his home. Colorado is his home.”

Rusnok said there was no timetable for when a federal judge would determine Lima-Marin’s removal. He added that Lima-Marin could be issued a an order of supervision that would allow him to stay in the country while periodically reporting to ICE.

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