It was supposed to be a good week for Rene Lima-Marin. The husband and father-of-two learned that a judge ordered his release from a Colorado prison, but before he could reunite with his family, he was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was told he may be deported to Cuba.
In 2000, the man was sentenced to 98 years in prison for armed robbery. He was mistakenly released early in 2008. For six years, he lived a life that Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour Jr. described as an "asset to society." He got a job, married his high school sweetheart, Jasmine Lima-Marin, had two children, bought a home and encouraged youth in his community to follow a path different from the one he chose.
"His case was unique in that sense," his attorney Kimberly Diego said. "Not all people who are rehabilitated behave that way."
Despite his betterment, in 2014, when it was discovered that a clerk had made an error with Lima-Marin’s paperwork during his release, he was rearrested in 2014 to serve out the rest of his 98-year sentence.
"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 ... disregarding everything that had transpired between April 2008 and January 2014," Samour said.
On Tuesday, after describing Lima-Marin as a model prisoner and referring to his rearrest as "conscience-shocking," the judge ordered his release. "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. 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," he said.
The man was expected back home on Wednesday. Instead, he was placed on an ICE hold in Aurora.
“We just have to wait,” his wife said.
Lima-Marin moved from Cuba to the U.S. when he was one-year-old. According to Jasmine, her husband never applied for citizenship because U.S. relations with Cuba allowed him to stay.
With President Barack Obama ending the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cubans in January, the man’s life is back in limbo.
If deported, his wife said she “will try” to follow him to Cuba, a country Lima-Marin has no memory of.