Cuban immigrant Rene Lima-Marin released from ICE custody after appeals board rules in his favor

Posted at 1:22 PM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 23:19:04-04

AURORA, Colo. — A Cuban immigrant who won a pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper for an armed robbery conviction was released from federal immigration custody on Monday following an appeal board's ruling in his favor.

Rene Lima-Marin was released from the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Monday afternoon.

“I’m out here now. They’re going to have to catch me if they want to put me back,” Lima-Marin said upon his release, laughing. “It’s hard to put in words, really, but it’s wonderful.”

He thanked Hickenlooper and others who have fought for his release.

“I’m extremely grateful for everyone that’s been on my side and done everything for me. The governor, I’m extremely grateful for the governor,” he said. He also thanked his lawyer, Aaron Elinoff, whom he called “the greatest lawyer in the world.”

ICE officials said Monday they would abide by the judge's order.

Lima-Marin received a 98-year prison sentence in 2000 after being convicted of robbing two Denver-area video stores. He was accidentally released on parole in 2008, and reformed himself while out of prison, marrying, having a child, and getting a long-term job.

Authorities discovered their mistake in 2014, and Lima-Marin was sent back to prison for approximately three more years.

Hickenlooper vacated Lima-Marin's conviction in May 2017 and the man was released from prison, but was immediately taken into custody by ICE officials because he came to the country illegally from Cuba as a child in 1980, and had his residency revoked after his 2000 conviction.

He said his time in custody has left him time to think, and said he’s a changed man.

“I’m extremely remorseful. I’m a different person now. I’m not the same person I was before,” Lima-Marin said. “I wish I would have never done those things and I’m sorry that they had to experience that….It’s a terrible thing. I wish I wasn’t as immature as I was back then.”

In October, an immigration judge terminated removal proceedings against Lima-Marin and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed an appeal.

Lima-Marin had been held in the federal immigration detention facility in Aurora. The Department of Homeland Security has the ability to file another appeal in the case, but Lima-Marin will remain out of custody pending any further proceedings, Rosenberg said.

Now that he’s out of custody, he said he has one goal: being with his family.

“Spending time with my family—that’s what it’s always been about is being with my family,’ he said. “I don’t care about anything else.”

Lima-Marin’s wife, Jasmine, said she was speechless that her husband was out of custody.

“I have no words. I’m just excited and I’m ready for the boys to see their dad,” she said. “It’s been almost five years…waiting, and like he said, just to have to go through this moment multiple times—so it’s finally real. Finally our families are going to be back together.”