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


First it is a sad point her parents took her here at three ans left her in this situation. The onky questionable point is that she was filling for her green card and was detained. Though, most immigrants start filling legally outside the country, not while you illegally came in. I will ask you,

WHY WAS SHE NOT IN DACA? While you will scream, but look at them now?? I say look at what she was doing and could of done under DACA. What they all could of done and assimilate properly into the community and respect the laws.

Bottom line, she didn't file for DACA, was here well within the time line. She can still file for her green card, but because of all you, let them all stay, people, our green card backlog is a decade behind. But with marrage she will get green card in a year, less because she has already started it.

Though i know, lets take a gentle hand with every person entering this country to the point everyone comes over. Mexico is what, the second safest place to live.


Intolerance at its worse. Christians who are Anti Immigrant compassion show Ugly and Really really twisted thinking. ~ wolves in sheep's clothing! Hate is not from a loving place, as Jews, Jesus and his wandering family in Egypt likely came across people who would drive them out. I am sure he relates much more to the painful experiences of immigrants, than the talk and actions of haters.


She is 30! She was an adult at 18. She knew she was an illegal and should have done something then. Sorry, but she knew that she had no right to be in this country. Then has kids here. Not pulling at heart strings. Sorry her parents brought her here; but once she became an adult, it was on her to do the right thing. She thought the right thing was to keep hiding out illegally. I don't qualify according to Canada's requirements for skills needed to be eligible to move there. Without a formal job offer, in IT, I'm not welcome. I didn't hop the border and hide out!


Why did she not register with DACA? Under the law she is undocumented and illegal regardless of how she entered the United States.


I wonder what all lose ICE agents will do when all the immigrants are expelled? Will they become Trump secret Police?


She is in the country illegally and needs to back to her country of origin. Any fault for her situation is her parent's. The USA is just about the only country that puts up with this illegal immigration nonsense. Crossing borders into any Central and South American countries will pretty much land you in a jail where you will not have a happy time.


Our entire country was founded by immigrants. I am a white male born in the Southeastern US and the government's policies on immigrants is absurd. It is corporate America and our corrupt system that has led to a loss of jobs in this country. NOT immigrants. While I agree that we must control immigration, I do not agree that we should remove anyone with the courage and determination to get here and remain here. Most Americans are not even more than 5 generations from being an immigrant themselves. Adding this to the shameful way that we treated native Americans and it becomes obvious to anyone with the ability to critically think that there is something very wrong with prevailing attitudes toward immigrants with a great many Americans.


Yea, I have zero sympathy for criminals, regardless of their actions or situation they broke the law and need to pay for their continued crimes, maybe the aclu should be more concerned about helping our actual citizens.


She has know since she was 15 and have had another 15 years to take care of this. Her ‘emergency’ due to her lack of action is not our problem.

Tom Hunnicutt

Its a bad thing happening hrre.


Stay Informed