BOSTON (WPRI) — A federal judge ruled Thursday that a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Providence mother detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can move forward.
The ruling will extend the lawsuit beyond its five plaintiffs, including other New England-area residents to continue seeking lawful status without worrying about deportation.
Lilian Calderon is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, that challenges President Donald Trump and his administration’s pattern of separating married couples and families pursuing lawful immigration status.
Calderon was detained by ICE in January 2018 after a marriage interview at an immigration office in Johnston. The Guatemalan native, who came to Rhode Island as a toddler, told Eyewitness News she thought she was taking the next step to becoming a lawful, permanent resident. She was released from detention in February 2018 following ACLU’s legal action.
Calderon and her husband Luis Gordillo, an American citizen, are among four other New England couples being represented in the lawsuit, which argues that non-citizen immigrants, who are going through the citizenship process, should be granted temporary relief to remain in the United States.
According to the ACLU, filings in the case revealed how the United States utilized its own regulations, which were designed to protect families from unnecessary separation during the legalization process, to target individuals for detention and deportation.
“This class certification is about ensuring that families stay together,” Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Carol Rose said.
The ACLU of Massachusetts said the court also denied the government’s motion to dismiss petitioners’ equal protection claim, finding that Trump’s policies adopted by his administration, “supported a plausible claim that the harms petitioners suffered were the product of racial animus.”
On Wednesday, Calderon was granted her visa by the U.S. consulate in Guatemala, meaning she can now return to the United States as a lawful, permanent resident. Once home, she plans to continue her path to citizenship.