The subject of a long immigration battle, Rene Lima-Marin has been released from detention after finally winning a long battle against deportation. In 2000, Lima-Marin was convicted of armed-robbery and sentenced to ninety-eight years in prison. In 2008, he was paroled by accident, and for six years lived life as a free man. After it was discovered that he had indeed not been intended to be paroled, he was sent to prison again to serve the rest of his sentence.
However, in May of 2017, a judge determined that it was an injustice to keep him in prison after the misjudgement of the authorities, and he was released from prison. He was immediately picked up by immigration officials, and re-imprisoned to await deportation hearings, a common occurrence among immigrants with criminal histories. In order to stall deportation hearings, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado pardoned him from his crime, but Lima-Marin remained stuck in prison. Again in June, an immigration lawyer attempted to overturn the deportation process, but battles amongst the lawyers kept him imprisoned until he was released on Monday.
Rene Lima-Marin came to the United States from Cuba in the Mariel Boatlift in 1980, a period in which approximately 125,000 Cubans fled Cuba and sought asylum in the U.S. For a period the “wet foot, dry foot” policy remained in place, allowing these Cubans to become residents. However, the abolishment of this policy in the end of the Obama era, created more potential for deportation of these immigrants.
VERDICT: While the verdict has been controversial, as many believe that Lima-Marin should have remained in prison due to the severity of his initial crime, ultimately the decision to not deport was a win for immigration-activists. However, the length of time in which Lima-Marin remained in prison while awaiting his hearing remains the subject of a continuous legal dispute of whether or not the law calls for this kind of detainment. It will be interesting to see the direction in which subsequent cases will take.