BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — A federal judge in Boston is continuing to hear arguments in a class action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts.
Judge Mark Wolf will decide whether to allow certain immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens, but are facing deportation, to remain in the country.
A Providence woman, Lilian Calderon, is the lead plaintiff in the case that challenges the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. The Guatemalan native grew up in Providence, marrying her high school sweetheart, eventually having two children together.
In January, Calderon was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for nearly a month following a citizenship interview with her husband.
ACLU of Massachusetts legal director Matt Segal says the group is arguing non-citizen immigrants should be granted temporary relief to stay in the United States while they work to get legal status.
“What’s happening today is a hearing that’s about the government trapping people and arresting them even though these folks were pursuing a path that the government created for them to pursue their green cards,” Segal said following Monday’s hearing.
A spokesperson for the ACLU said she testified during the hearings on Tuesday, along with another plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The federal government is arguing the case should be dismissed, because district courts don’t have jurisdiction over deportation decisions.
Segal said that’s one of three things his group is focused on fighting in this hearing.
“We’re seeking a certification of a class that would protect not just our individual clients, but similarly situated folks throughout New England who are trying to pursue this process. And another thing we’re seeking is a preliminary junction that would protect people from being targeted for arrests and detention and removal while they seek to pursue their green cards,” Segal said.
Calderon also spoke to reporters yesterday on how she never expected this to happen.
“We made our lives here with our husbands, and I did not expect this to happen. I was completely blind sighted because we were following the steps that were implemented so that we could legally follow,” Calderon said.
Calderon and her husband, Luis Gordillo, are one of five couples involved in the lawsuit.
She said the experience of being detained was traumatic for herself and her family.
“I have two small children and these are the formative years. They’re five and two at the moment. They were four and one at the time, and they just went through such a horrific experience, things that they’re still seeking professional help to get over. It’s very hurtful,” Calderon said.
The ACLU says 17 individuals detained at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after appearing for marriage interviews in 2018.
“They had a right to seek their green cards, and they should have been permitted to travel the path that the government created for them without being worried that they were going to be arrested at the very interview that the government invited them to,” Segal said.
The hearing began Monday morning and is expected to continue into Wednesday.