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.

View comments (484)
Read the Terms of Use


Shame on you. You heartless selfish bigot. This is a country of immigrants and this woman has done everything she could. A mother of US citizens a wife of a citizen. You and your bigoted President should be ashamed!!!!


She’s a criminal for. wing brought here at age 3 and trying to legally gain protected status? Ok...then I suppose Jesus was an illegal in Egypt. They should have kicked Him back over the border to Herod.


Actually immigration law is not criminal but a civil matter. It is like getting a ticket for jay walking. You should probably learn the laws of your own country.


The #%×# is wrong with you?!?
Unless you are at least part Native American, your family entered illegally, and proceeded/were a part of stealing Land and Resources and raging War on the Natives!
Go back where your folks came from!

Kevin Bowler

If you were born in the United States, your parents chose to conceive knowing that they were living on lands stolen from native peoples & that "someday, maybe" you'd all get your butts booted back across the Atlantic. Keep up your heartless talk & that day may come sooner than you think.


Yes “Anonymous” I would hide my hate filled name too if I spewed the kind of inconsiderate, lack of compassion comments that you have placed under this situation. This woman was brought here as a child and has done nothing illegal that I can see except try to live in peace. The Statue of Liberty is hiding her face these days as belligerent asses like you speak out due to a fascist, incompetent, narcissistic jerk that a minority put in office. I say keep her, let her be a mother to her children, and deport YOU as you do not represent what this country has stood for.


You’re an idiot.


Before we start condemning all these people for their legal status I believe we should all look in our own closets. White Europeans came here and stole the land from Native Americans. Many of us have an undocumented immigrant in our family tree. Others have ancestors who were brought here against their will. No one is innocent. Do we all follow every law precisely? Have we never bent the law and gotten away with it. Today people who are living within every other law in this nation, people supporting their family, people who are educated, working and contributing to their community, people who are here through no fault of ther own, people who are trying to become legal citizens, are being torn from their homes and sent to places they know nothing about. Are you going to come to the aid of their families left here legally? Where is our empathy? Today it is the immigrants being chastised, locked up and sent away. Who might be next?

Michelle Kaskey

Why post your opinion as “Anonymous” if you believe yourself to be right?


At 3 years old she was a criminal? What’s wrong with you?


Stay Informed