Rene Lima-Marin sits for a 2014 interview with The Associated Press inside Kit Carson Correctional Center, a privately operated prison in Burlington, Colo.

(AP Photo)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper  has pardoned felon Rene Lima-Marin in a bid to stave off deportation of the Cuban immigrant. 

Lima-Marin was convicted in 2000 of multiple felonies after he and another man robbed two video stores at gunpoint. A toddler when his parents came to the United States from Cuba during the 1980 Mariel boat lift, a judge revoked his legal residency and ordered him deported after his conviction.

He was mistakenly released in 2008. He then held a steady job installing glass, got married and has a 10-year-old stepson and 7-year-old son who was born while he was out of prison. He was put back in prison in 2014 after authorities learned of the mistake.

The governor said Friday there was strong bipartisan unity on his decision about Lima-Marin, and that even though Lima-Marin had committed a serious crime, he had demonstrated that he changed his ways. It would've sent a "terrible message" to others working to rehabilitate out of prison if he didn't pardon the man, Hickenlooper said.

Rene Lima-Marin's wife, Jasmine, had decorated her home with balloons Wednesday and said she was on standby to drive to the prison to pick him up. Instead, he called her to tell her that he was being held by ICE. She told The Associated Press she was ready to uproot her family and move to Cuba if her husband is deported.

Hickenlooper said he will issue other pardons in the next couple of weeks, but offered no other details. A Republican running for governor, George Brauchler, was quickly in Twitter to criticize Hickenlooper's move, saying in part, "A convicted 3 time robber and kidnapper gets @GovofCO 1st pardon in 6+ years? Victims consulted?"