Colorado Dem Governor skirts federal law, pardons convicted felon to prevent deportation

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, pardoned a convicted felon so as to prevent his deportation.

According to the report, Rene Lima-Marin, a 38-year-old who came to the United States as a toddler during the Mariel boat lift from Cuba, was sentenced to 98 years in prison in 2000 for robbery.  He was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008, married, had a child and had a steady job installing glass until authorities realized the mistake in 2014.  At that time, they sent him back to complete his 98-year sentence.

The AP added:

A Colorado judge earlier this week ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him incarcerated. But before he could return to his family, immigration authorities picked him up, citing a still-active deportation order from 2000. His lawyers said a pardon was his only chance to stave off deportation.

And of course, Hickenlooper rushes to the rescue.

The AP further said:

Lima-Marin’s case has become a bipartisan cause celebre in Colorado, as 98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, called on Hickenlooper to grant him clemency. Though the legal roots of Lima-Marin’s deportation order stretch back to actions of the Obama administrations, his detention comes as the Trump administration has moved aggressively to speed up deportations, sometimes sparking clashes with local officials.

“This was a question of justice,” Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. “This was a pretty clear example of someone who’s done all the work necessary to earn a second chance.”

But it’s not clear if the governor’s action will be enough to prevent deportation.

District Attorney George Brauchler said Hickenlooper did not give prosecutors time to review the pardon application as required by state law, the AP report said.

“The hasty decision to ignore state law was made seemingly to skirt federal law, and that is not an appropriate use of the governor’s pardon power,” Brauchler — a candidate for governor — said.

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for ICE, also said Hickenlooper’s pardon would not be enough.

“Rene Michael Lima Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge,” he told the AP in a statement.

Jason Kasperek, the assistant manager of a Blockbuster video store Lima-Marin and an accomplice robbed in 1998, opposes the deportation, saying Lima-Marin should be in prison.

“I just think that it’s scandalous how he used the system,” Kasperek said, telling the AP how the robbers held a rifle to his head as they forced him to open the store’s safe. “I think it’s completely ridiculous. It’s unjust for all victims who have been involved in it.”

The AP also said Lima-Marin was held in immigration detention for 180 days after his 2008 parole but Cuba refused to accept additional people who arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees.  Lima-Marin was subsequently released, but continued to check in with immigration authorities regularly, according to his wife Jasmine.


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