1980 — Rene Lima-Marin leaves Cuba as a toddler with his parents in what would become known as the Mariel boat lift after Fidel Castro announced the country would stop trying to prevent unauthorized departures. More than 125,000 islanders took advantage of the opportunity, most of them law-abiding citizens but some of them criminals and mental patients.
1995 — President Bill Clinton enacts the “wet foot, dry foot” policy allowing Cubans who reach the United States to remain in the country. Cubans were also protected from deportation to Cuba because of the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
2000 — Lima-Marin and another man are convicted on multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary charges in connection with two violent robberies of suburban Denver video stores. He was sentenced to back-to-back, or consecutive, sentences on eight convictions, for a total of 98 years. However, a court clerk recorded that the sentences should be served at the same time. An immigration judge also orders that Lima-Marin be deported.
2001 — The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the government can’t indefinitely hold people who can’t be deported to another country. As a result, they can remain in the United States but must check in with immigration officials regularly.
2008 — Lima-Marin is released from prison after serving just eight years because of the clerk’s error. He went on to complete five years of parole, got married to a former girlfriend, helped raise her son and had another son together.
2014 — Colorado authorities realize Lima-Marin was mistakenly released and he is returned to prison to finish serving the rest of his 98-year sentence.
January 2017 — President Barack Obama ends the “wet foot, dry foot” policy as part of normalization of relations with Cuba. Cuba agrees to consider taking back Cubans slated for deportation from the U.S. on a case-by-case basis.
May 2017 — A judge orders Lima-Marin to be released from prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him in prison and that he had paid his debt to society. He is released from prison but arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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