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

You're disgusting. She's not a criminal. She's living her life and has a family. Everyone who ever broke the speed limit must be a criminal in your eyes too. I hate you and everything you stand for.

Anonymous

Would be nice if good "Muricans" like yourself could actually spell. Use that education that the taxpayers paid for. Why are all supports of 45 illiterate?

Anonymous

Damn no compassion. Where is the humanity that bonds human beings together. She was brought here at 3 years old. What does she know of Guatemala. Not a damn thing. Just pointing that part out. It's not right. I understand your frustration and where your coming from, but as a Christian, those aren't the values that my parents instilled in me. #StayClassy

Anonymous

She came here when she was THREE. How much influence do you think she had over her parents choice to come to the US??

Kim

The article acknowledges that she was here illegally but was doing everything the government asked of her to rectify the situation. She is not a risk to anyone and is not trying to run/hide from her responsibilities. I hope she is allowed to return home and continue her road to citizenship.

Anonymous

All crimes have a statute of limitation, except homicide and...unlawful presence in the US. So, a rapist may not be prosecuted u less after a certain number of years from the time of the crime. The government failed to act on her case for 30 years, only to come now, by a stroke of a pen, to snatch her from her family and detain her. Any crime must meet certain elements, including intent and injury to others. She was brought in as a child so no intent there. She harmed no one. When the laws that we create causes inequitable and inhumane results, then rather than bowing to such laws as devine, we should change them to ensure they serve humanity.

Shane

You are an ass

Anonymous

What kind of human being are you? She was brought here at 3. She had no choice in the matter. This is the only place she knows. She is married to a US citizen and has two children who depend on her. YOU and your entitled, hateful attitudes are what is wrong with this country. You would be singing a very different tune if you fled a country because you were being being raped, tortured, or threatened w harm or death. The law actually says that we will welcome such people. Bet you didn’t know that. Her father actively sought assylum. She was a baby.

Kevin Bowler

why you posting anonymously?

Anonymous

She was three. Or did you care about that part? Or the part where she has been trying to go through the proper channels for citizenship her entire life? Or how about the part where she was told she would be approved? Maybe you’re just an ignorant and hateful person who has nothing better to do than spread more ignorance and hate. That’s my guess.

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