DENVER (CBS4) - A Board of Immigration Appeals decision has freed Rene Lima Marin from detention ending a years-long ordeal involving prison, courts, politics and the federal government.
After years of ups and downs of an improbable saga Lima-Marin and his wife reunited outside the doors of the ICE detention center in Aurora.
This all goes back to a 1998 store robbery. Lima-Marin was arrested and sentenced to 98 years in prison but was released by mistake nine decades early.
Out free for six years he married and became the father of two boys and says he changed his ways.
"I'm extremely remorseful. I'm a different person now. I'm not the same person I was before. I wish I never would have done those things," he told reporters.
He was sent back to prison after a prosecutor discovered the mistake.
A judge ordered him freed, the governor pardoned him. Then immigration authorities held him til now.
" You got pretty down at times?" CBS4's Rick Sallinger asked Jasmine Lima-Marin. "Just because you are down doesn't mean you lose your faith," she said.
Lima Marin says his faith kept him going.
"I held Bible studies in here every single day for me the word of God never stops."
He and his wife left the detention center to go to their Aurora home for a surprise reunion between the father and the family's two young boys.
"They were just like, 'Is this real? Is he really standing in front of me?'" Jasmine said of their sons Josiah & Justus when Rene walked in.
Rene's return home feels surreal for the family. They were told so many times Rene was coming home, only to be let down.
"It's one of those things where you're like, 'Okay, is it going to happen for real this time?' And then, when it finally does, you don't really know how to react because you've had so many of those emotions already," Rene told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann from his living room.
'Overwhelming' and 'amazing' are how Rene described being home. He held tight to his youngest son, 7-year-old Josiah, and couldn't stop smiling.
"I've been trying to get back to them, that's what I've been trying to do since this started," Rene explained, giving credit to God for helping him through. "This would not be possible, I couldn't stand here, and I wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for God."
The struggle to get home was worth it, Rene said, but knows it wasn't always easy for his kids.
"Last time he was going to come back he didn't," Josiah said, adding it made him sad.
"But how do you feel now?" Werthmann asked Josiah.
"Happy," he said.
Jasmine is happy, too. She said she wouldn't change a thing about the fight to get her husband home.
"It think it happened the way it was supposed to and I think it's going to make us all so much stronger and our family bond stronger," she said.
In October of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security filed an appeal after an immigration court judge ordered that Rene Lima-Marin be released from custody.
CBS4 has covered Lima Marin's case extensively.
RELATED: Rene Lima-Marin Story Archive
A Colorado judge ordered Lima-Marin to be released from state prison last May, saying it would be "draconian" to keep him incarcerated. Gov. John Hickenlooper also pardoned Lima-Marin.
Lima Marin had been faced with possible deportation to Cuba, he feels his future is now much brighter here in Colorado.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.
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