The ACLU today announced the release of Lilian Calderon, a Rhode Island mother who was detained last month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Calderon has lived in the United States since she was brought across the border at the age of three, and her sudden detention separated her from her husband and two young children.
"Lilian’s detention was inhumane and unlawful," said Adriana Lafaille, staff attorney at ACLU of Massachusetts. "We are pleased that she is back home with her family, and will continue to work to protect Lilian’s rights and to fight against arbitrary detentions like this one."
In 2016, Calderon and her husband began a process created by the government that allows individuals in Calderon’s situation to apply for lawful permanent residency. On January 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 this case, the government’s left hand beckoned her forward, and its right hand grabbed her,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island. “This is yet another local example of families torn apart and lives disrupted for no legitimate immigration enforcement purpose. We are glad that she is able to return to Rhode Island and her family."
The ACLU of Massachusetts – with support from the ACLU of Rhode Island – filed a petition in federal court to seek the immediate release of Calderon. The lawsuit argued that Calderon’s detention was a violation of her constitutional right to due process and federal immigration laws and regulations.
"I am so happy to see my husband and children again and to be out of immigration detention, which was a terrible ordeal for our family,” said Calderon upon release. “What the government is doing to my family, and to so many others, is simply wrong."