Lilian Calderon: 18 Who Made a Difference in 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018


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Calderon and her family

She probably did not have any intentions of garnering statewide — and national — attention at the outset of 2018, but her case — and the case of thousands of others across the country — certainly did. 

Lilian Calderon, a Rhode Island mother of two who was detained in January by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), sparked a legal battle that resulted in the ACLU of Massachusetts and the ACLU of Rhode Island announcing her release on February 14. 

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. 

On February 5, the ACLU filed a petition in federal court to seek the immediate release of Calderon from an immigration detention facility, arguing that Calderon’s continued detention violated 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. “What the government is doing to my family, and to so many others, is simply wrong." 
"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."


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