Just After Winning His Freedom In Uplifting Case, Inmate Taken By ICE

Expecting to be reunited with his family after a long, hard fight for freedom, reformed felon Rene Lima-Marin is now facing immigration authorities.

Rene Lima-Marin was serving out a 98-year prison sentence in Colorado for robbing two video stores in 1998 when he was mistakenly released early in 2008, CNN reports.

Taking this lucky second chance to heart, Lima-Marin found employment, started a family, purchased a home, and became an upstanding member of his community, working with young people to empower them to work towards a better futures for themselves.

However, in 2014, authorities caught up with their error, and Lima-Marin was re-arrested and once again imprisoned to carry out the remainder of his sentence. 

Judge Carlos Samour Jr. of Arapahoe County District Court did not see the justice in this though and ruled on Tuesday to release Lima-Marin back to his family and life. 

"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,” Judge Samour wrote in his decision. “Because the Court finds that Lima-Marin is being unlawfully detained, he is ordered released. No other remedy will result in justice in this case.”

However, just when everyone thought this would be an inspiring story of redemption and justice, things have once again taken a cruel turn. CBS reported that, on the same day Lima-Marin was to be able to return to his family, authorities with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) halted the long-awaited reunion.

Lima-Marin's parents came to America from Cuba in 1980 when he was about 2 years old in the Mariel Boatlift. According to Lima-Marin's father, while his son became a legal resident when they reached American shores, he never applied for U.S. citizenship. Since ICE's involvement, the family has been working quickly to find an immigration attorney to resolve his citizenship status.

According to the Denver Post, when Lima-Marin was released in 2008 he completed five years of parole without any upset and managed to rise above poor paying jobs often left to felons, achieving solid work as a glazier with a union position. He married his high school sweetheart, Jasmine, became a father to two boys, and set up a wholesome life for them in Aurora, Colorado. Judge Samour called Lima-Marin an "asset to society," an "outstanding citizen," and recognized the source of good the man had become in his community.

"His case was unique in that sense," Lima-Marin's attorney Kimberly Diego told reporters. "Not all people who are rehabilitated behave that way."

By a mere paperwork error, Lima-Marin had been released 90 years early, a clerk writing that his sentences be served concurrently, instead of consecutively. It was on Jan. 7, 2014, when his former prosecutor decided to check on his whereabouts, that the error was uncovered, as Lima-Marin no longer appeared in the prison system. Lima-Marin was promptly taken from his family to serve out the rest of his long sentence.
“I’ve been taken away from my children and my wife. I don’t even know how to explain that that’s the thing that’s consistently on my mind every single day,” Lima-Marin said in a 2016 hearing. “I’m supposed to be the head of my household, I’m the person…I’m the person that’s supposed to guide and lead them of everything that’s of God, and I’ve been taken away from them.”
Judge Samour was extremely carefuly going over the case, making sure that no detail remained unexamined. Diego described his work as "thorough" and that she "could tell he wanted to make sure this was perfect." The result was a ruling strongly on the side of justice.
"In effect, after its utter lack of care led to Lima-Marin's premature release and prolonged erroneous liberty, in January 2014 the government decided to compensate for its transgressions by swiftly turning back the clock and returning Lima-Marin to prison," said Judge Samour. "Not through the use of a magic wand or the invention of a time machine built out of a DeLorean, which might have transported him back to his life in April 2008, but through the simple issuance of an arrest warrant, which merely put him back in prison, disregarding everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014."
May this ruling strongly guide Lima-Marin's case with the immigration authorities moving forward. He's worked hard to turn his story into a positive one, and he deserves a happy ending.

Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters

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