The pardon was for Rene Lima-Marin, 38, a man convicted of armed robbery committed 19 years ago. He came to the U.S. as a toddler as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba and had his legal residency revoked in 2000 due to his criminal conviction. He was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery, but somehow was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008.
Lima-Marin married, had a child and got a job installing glass. But in 2014, state authorities removed their heads from their nether regions and realized their mistake for releasing him from prison. They sent him back to finish out the remainder of his 98 year sentence.
A judge ordered Lima-Marin to be released from prison, saying it would be "draconian" to keep him locked up. However, before he could return home to his loving wife and adorable child, mean immigration authorities spirited him away, citing a still-active deportation order from 2000.
Talk about efficiency.
Lima-Marin's law team said that only a pardon could stave off deportation.
So low and behold, Hickenlooper, along with bipartisan support of the 98 members of the state Assembly, granted the man clemency.
(Remind me to play the number 98 on the Scratchoff.)
"This was a question of justice," Hickenlooper said at a news conference. "This was a pretty clear example of someone who's done all the work necessary to earn a second chance."
It is still uncertain whether the pardon will stop the deportation, but after Lima-Marin's years of good behavior, and the young age at which he committed the crime, I think he deserves a second chance--let's hope President Trump does too.
District Attorney George Brauchler, who is running against Hickenlooper for governor, and whose office prosecuted Lima-Marin, said the governor didn't give prosecutors time to review the pardon application as required by state law.
Sounds like Brauchler is trying to discredit the governor for his own political gain at the expense of a man's future--kind of a crummy move.
Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman, and a man not running for political office, said that Hickenlooper's pardon alone wouldn't stop the deportation. "Rene Michael Lima Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge," he said in a statement.
[Hint, hint, Mr. Trump.]
Hans Meyer, Lima-Marin's attorney, said he would file motions to vacate that order. "We're incredibly grateful to the governor for a just and fair solution," the smart, Jewish lawyer said. "This is a tremendous first step."
Jason Kasperek, a man known to hold a grudge and the assistant manager at the Blockbuster Video store Lima-Marin and an accomplice robbed in 1998, said that Lima-Marin should be back in prison.
"I just think that it's scandalous how he used the system," Kasperek said as he recalled how the pair held a rifle to his head and forced him to open the store safe. "I think it's completely ridiculous. It's unjust for all victims who have been involved in it."
The Blockbuster was one of two video stores he and Michael Clifton robbed. Both were convicted on multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary counts.
Clifton is still in prison serving his 98-year sentence.
Kasperek makes a good point. Why not Clifton?
Lima-Marin had been in immigration detention before this recent development. After his 2008 parole, immigration authorities held him for 180 days, but Cuba would not accept anymore people who had arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees. Thus, Lima-Marin was released, but continued to check in with immigration authorities regularly, his wife Jasmine said.
When Obama ended the "wet foot-dry foot" policy that protected Cuban immigrants who'd arrived here, it opened the door for more Cubans from the Mariel boat lift to be deported.
We have to ask ourselves whether Lima-Marin is so smart that he married Jasmine and had a child as part of an elaborate plan to stay out of prison and stay out of Cuba too.
I doubt it.
Most criminals, not all but most, aren't that bright nor have the foresight to plan that far ahead in life. I believe Lima-Marin falls in that category.
But if he commits even one more crime, big or small, he needs to go.
Do you agree?
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