We’ve been following this story from Colorado for over a year now and it looks like we have a resolution. There are a lot of twists and turns but let me summarize:
- Rene Lima-Marin comes to the United States as an infant from Cuba as part of John F. Kennedy’s Mariel boatlift.
- He is a legal resident alien and has a green card.
- When he is 19, he and his friend, Michael Clifton, robbed two Blockbuster video stores at gunpoint although Lima-Marin claimed the gun was unloaded. No one was hurt in either robbery.
- He and Clifton were arrested and sentenced to 98 years in prison. The length of the sentence was partially due to a kidnapping charge resulting from locking up the employees in another room.
- His green card is revoked.
And this is where Rene Lima-Marin becomes the luckiest SOB on the planet. Due to a clerical error, he was paroled in 2008. The error had been previously discovered for Michael Clifton and he remains in jail.
Lima-Marin turns has life around, gets married, has kids, and by all accounts is a model “citizen.” He is, of course, not a citizen but an illegal alien.
In 2015, the mistake is discovered and Lima-Marin is returned to jail.
In April 2017, the Colorado House unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution urging Colorado Governor Hickenlooper to grant Lima-Marin clemency. The state Senate then followed suit. The joint legislative resolution stated: “Lima-Marin is deserving of clemency by the governor due to the dramatic positive changes he has made in his life.”
The following month Governor Hickenlooper issued a pardon for Lima-Marin and he was released from prison.
Only to be arrested by ICE and scheduled for deportation.
The appropriate outrage ensued and Hickenlooper tried to make the case that since he was pardoned for the original crime, ICE should let him go. ICE, however, correctly noted that this wasn’t relevant because the conviction caused his green card to be revoked and the State of Colorado has no authority to issue or reinstate green cards.
At this point Chief Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour ruled that “Requiring Lima-Marin to serve the rest of his prison sentence all these years later would be draconian, would deprive him of substantive due process, and would perpetrate a manifest injustice.”
Seymour wrote in this ruling that “The Judicial Branch, not the Executive Branch, is charged with the daunting responsibility of doing justice — lest mercy be confused with justice. To be sure, this case presents a rather difficult and complicated issue that places the Court in a catch-22 mousetrap. But that does not mean the Court should punt to the Executive Branch. There is a way for the Court to dispense justice in this case: by ordering the release of Lima-Marin.”
Shortly after, Lima-Marin’s immigration case was reopened by the immigration court in Aurora, Colorado. Lima-Marin won this case which was immediately appealed.
On March 28, 2018, Lima-Marin was released from ICE custody following a dismissal by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is disappointed that the Board of Immigration Appeals has dismissed our appeal of an immigration judge’s decision to terminate the removal proceedings of Rene Lima Marin, from Cuba. However, ICE will abide by the BIA’s decision; Lima Marin has already been released from ICE custody. ICE currently plans no further action against Lima Marin unless other future criminal convictions render him removable.
On May 30, Judge Carlos Samour Jr. is appointed by Gov. Hickenlooper to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Not unsurprisingly, Michael Clifton is appealing to be released from prison.
Since you may not have heard of the Board of Immigration Appeals, let me list their permanent members for you:
- David L. Neal, appointed by Eric Holder
- Charles Adkins-Blanch, appointed by Eric Holder
- Molly Kendall Clark, appointed by Loretta Lynch
- Patricia A. Cole, appointed by Janet Reno
- Michael J. Creppy, appointed by Eric Holder
- Edward R. Grant, appointed by Janet Reno
- Anne J. Greer, appointed by Michael Mukasey (G.W. Bush administration)
- John W. Guendelsberger, appointed by Eric Holder
- Edward F. Kelly, appointed by Loretta Lynch
- Ellen Liebowitz, appointed by Loretta Lynch
- Garry D. Malphrus, appointed by Michael Mukasey (G.W. Bush administration)
- Ana Landazabal Mann, appointed by Eric Holder
- Hugh Mullane, appointed by Michael Mukasey (G.W. Bush administration)
- Blair O’Connor, appointed by Eric Holder
- Roger Pauley, appointed by John Ashcroft (G.W. Bush administration)
- Linda S. Wendtland, Michael Mukasey (G.W. Bush administration)