A Cuban immigrant whose armed robbery conviction was vacated by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in an effort to stop his deportation has been ordered released from federal custody by an immigration judge, his attorney said Tuesday.
But Rene Lima-Marin's release may be delayed pending a possible appeal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, attorney Aaron Elinoff told Denver's KCNC-TV.
Lima-Marin attracted national attention after he and an accomplice were sentenced to 98 years in prison in 2000 for robbing two video stores. Lima-Marin was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008, but he never reported the error to authorities. His accomplice, Michael Clifton, stayed in prison.
Lima-Marin married, had a child and got a steady job before authorities discovered the mistake in 2014 and returned him to prison. In May, a judge ordered his release, saying it was draconian to keep him behind bars. Immigration authorities detained him instead, citing a 2000 deportation order.
Days later, Gov. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pardoned Lima-Marin in hopes of stalling his deportation. An immigration judge in Denver overturned the deportation order on July 31 and assigned his case to immigration court in suburban Aurora. He was detained at an ICE facility in Aurora while his case was being argued.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have 30 days to appeal, and an ICE official told The Denver Post the agency was working on a response.
Lima-Marin came to the U.S. as a child in the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba. He had legal residency until it was revoked following his criminal conviction. Immigration authorities held him for 180 days after his 2008 parole, but Cuba at the time wasn't accepting deportees who had arrived during the Mariel boatlift.
In January, then-President Barack Obama ended a "wet foot-dry foot" policy that protected Cuban immigrants who arrived on U.S. soil, opening a possible door for additional Cubans from the Mariel boat lift to be deported.