A Colorado man’s new lease on life following a judge’s decision that he should remain freed despite being mistakenly released from prison 90 years early has been put on hold, as immigration authorities declared he shouldn’t have been in the U.S. in the first place.
Rene Lima-Marin was serving 98 years in prison for robbing two video stores in 1998 when he was improperly released in 2008.
Authorities realized the mistake six years later on Jan. 7, 2014, by which time Lima-Marin, now 38, had found a job, got married, started a family and bought a house, authorities said.
He was arrested—again—that day at 11 p.m., taken into custody in front of his family with the intention he would serve the remainder of his 98-year sentence.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. disagreed with that assessment, ruling that re-incarcerating Lima-Marin "violates his constitutional right to substantive due process."
In a 165-page decision, he wrote "it would be utterly unjust to compel Lima-Marin, at this juncture, to serve the rest of his extremely long sentence.”
Samour called Lima-Marin “a valuable member of the community” who “was impeccably law-abiding” during his time out of custody, and wrote that putting him back in prison disregarded “everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014.”
Lima-Marin was slated to be released this week from the Fremont Correctional Facility after the court sent a required order terminating his sentence to the Department of Correction.
But instead, Lima-Marin was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and may face deportation, as authorities said that a Criminal Justice Information Services review determined he might have an ICE detainer, The Denver Post reported.
Lima-Marin was “ordered removed” by a federal immigration judge in Denver on Nov. 1, 2000, ICE said in a statement to the Post. He was taken into custody on Wednesday “pending his removal to Cuba,” officials said.
Lima-Marin was about 2 years old when he and his parents moved to the U.S. from Cuba.
They were among thousands of Cuban refugees who emigrated to the U.S. after the Castro regime announced that all who wished to go were free to board boats at the port of Mariel in what has become known as the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
His father, Eli Borges, told the Post that Lima-Marin became a legal resident when they arrived but never applied for U.S. citizenship like his parents had done.
Kimberly Diego, Lima-Marin’s attorney who represented him in his effort to be released from prison, said that her client was “absolutely legal,” and told the newspaper that Cubans are unique in their standing as immigrants.
The U.S. has little say in Cuba’s decision to accept deportees, and it is reportedly possible that Lima-Marin could spend as much as six months in ICE custody before being put on an order of supervision that requests he check in regularly with ICE officials and possibly wear a GPS ankle bracelet.
Diego told the Post that she is searching for an immigration specialist to clarify Lima-Marin’s status.
“Anytime you’re in ICE custody, you’re in fear of deportation,” Diego said. “We’re going to do everything we can to avoid that, if that’s possible. We’re obviously all completely devastated by the news but working hard to see what there is to be done. We’re going to attack this from every angle possible.”