AURORA, Colo. — Lawyers announced Tuesday a federal immigration judge has ordered the release Rene Lima-Marin and dropped the deportation proceedings against him.
The once-convicted felon — who was mistakenly released from prison decades early, rearrested and eventually pardoned — was in federal custody Tuesday at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora.
The immigration judge’s new order will not become a reality until ICE prosecutors forgo an appeal or an appeal has been adjudicated in favor of Lima-Marin, according to those close to the case.
Experts said this could be the end of what has been complicated legal drama that’s been ongoing for years.
“We have an order from the immigration judge saying the case is terminated,” Lima-Marin’s lawyer Aaron Elinoff said.
Elinoff is hopeful his client will be freed this week.
The Cuban-born man robbed two video stores when he was 19 and sentenced to spend decades in prison.
A clerical error resulted in him being mistakenly released from prison after only a few years.
During his release, he got married, had children and found a steady job. He was rearrested after the state realized its error.
“His family is excited and yet somewhat reserved,” Elinoff said. “They’ve had the rug pulled out from under them a couple of times.”
A judge ordered Lima-Marin be fully released from a state prison shortly before Gov. John Hickenlooper pardoned him and acknowledged the state’s mistake.
However, technicalities in an ongoing federal immigration case still haunted Lima-Marin. But an immigration judge has now ordered that Lima-Marin can stay in the U.S.
“I’m kind of concerned and worried, but at the same time, I know that this is it,” his mother said Tuesday. “We are going to be rejoined and we’re going to have the best party possible that we can have.”
When ICE detained Lima-Marin after his release from prison, state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution asking Hickenlooper to set Lima-Marin free.
Hickenlooper issued a pardon in May, but since that time, Lima-Marin has remained in ICE custody.
The pardon took away Lima-Marin’s felony conviction, which lawmakers said was the main legal basis for his ICE detainer.
In August, attorneys for Lima-Marin said he had won the motion to reopen his immigration case and withdraw his previous order of removal.
ICE lawyers have 30 days to decide if they will appeal the judge’s order. Elinoff expects a decision on the appeal this week along with a release.