Mother of Two Goes to Immigration Interview and Ends Up in ICE Detention

UPDATE: On February 13, ICE released Calderon from detention, which will allow her to reunite her with her husband and young children while she seeks to vindicate her legal rights.

A federal judge in Boston has stayed the deportation of a Rhode Island woman pending his review of a petition challenging her detention and the government’s efforts to remove her. The judge, Mark L. Wolf, is one of a growing number of judges across the country who are looking closely at the government’s increasingly aggressive detention and deportation practices.

Lilian Calderon, who was detained last month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a 30-year-old mother of two young children who has lived in the United States since she was brought across the border at the age of three. Her detention has separated her from children who desperately need her care and raised the possibility that she could be whisked away to Guatemala, a country she barely knows.

Calderon has lived with a final order of removal since she was 15 — when her father lost his asylum bid. In 2016, after living in the shadows her whole life, she and her husband began a process created by the government that allows individuals in Calderon’s situation to apply for lawful permanent residency.

On Jan. 17, she appeared at the Johnston, Rhode Island, offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with her husband for an interview designed to confirm their marital relationship — the first step in the process of seeking to become a lawful permanent resident. At the end of the interview, USCIS recognized their marital relationship as legitimate, setting her one step further along the path of seeking her status. Immediately afterward, she was abruptly detained by ICE and taken to a detention facility in Boston. In effect, the government’s left hand beckoned her forward, and its right hand grabbed her.

But that detention — and any potential removal of Calderon — violates U.S. laws, regulations, and the Constitution, which prohibits detentions that are not reasonably related to the government’s purpose of preventing flight and protecting the community. That’s why the ACLU of Massachusetts, supported by the ACLU of Rhode Island, this week filed a petition in federal court to seek Calderon’s immediate release from immigration detention. Although the federal judge’s order bars any immediate deportation to Guatemala, Calderon’s ordeal continues as the court weighs whether she should be released from a cell in Boston and returned to her two young children and husband.

Our petition for Calderon’s releases notes the impact her detention has already had on her family, including her 4-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son. Her young daughter has begun having nightmares three or four times a night, bursting into tears without warning, crying for her mother, and becoming frightened by brief separations from other family members. Her younger son can no longer sleep in his crib on his own. Her husband says he feels like he’s lost his best friend.

Calderon is being detained even though there is no evidence that she poses a flight or security risk. This is yet another local example of families torn apart and lives disrupted for no legitimate immigration enforcement purpose. The Trump administration’s detention and deportation machine grinds on, leaving nothing but misery in its wake.

A hearing in Calderon v. Nielsen will be held on February 21, 2018, at 10 a.m. in Boston.

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Anonymous

She is illegal she has been for years that makes her a criminal. ..she broke the law ...wen we Americans break the law we are punished and we dont get special treatment just because we have kids and she doesn't deserve any special treatment ...she knew she was illegal and breaking the law when she had those kids she knew the risk and chose to have kids anyway thinking she would get special trestment...no she does not we sure dont...no sympathy at all I say deport

Anonymous

She was brought here at 3 years old! Have a heart!

Anonymous

I used to see it in black and white too. However she was brought here at age 3...she didn't choose break the law. And at 15, her parents didn't all go back when they were denied, so what was she supposed to do at that age? At least she stepped up and tried to become legal and for that she was detained by being tricked. That is not right.

Anonymous

A three year old broke the law?

She's trying to make things right and get legal citizenship, and in return she was thrown in prison (that's what detainment essentially is). If this is your idea of "justice," I am very sorry for your loved ones.

Anonymous

Why are you on ACLU’s website? You clearly do not support the mission. These are for supportive comments, not the rantings of an anti-immigration lunatic.

Anonymous

So then I guess an infant in the backseat of a getaway car for a bank robbery is also a criminal, yes?

Anonymous

She was brought here at 3 years old, and this is the only country she knows. She had no say in being brought here, and regardless of all that by marrying a US citizen and having children who are now citizens themselves she can become a full fledged citizen now. What about your mango in chief Drumpf's wife, who was here illegaly until she married Jabba the Orange Hut. Should she be deported too?

Anonymous

Suck it! She was brought here as a child, a 3 year old "criminal" by your logic. Whatever. Past is past...
Now, she is married to an American, she is the mother to Americans. She is American, and should receive documents identifying her as such.

Anonymous

And you're without a soul or a shred of empathy.
I'd rather have 1,000 people like her than 1 like you.

Queen

This is the most ignorant comment! You do realize that even your descendants are immigrants. If you think this people needs to be deported then you should too abd your whole family. Because youre not a real american. Native American were the real settlers in this country. Get out!!

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