PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lilian Calderon doesn’t remember her time living in Guatemala before she moved to the United States with her family.
She was only 3 years old.
Now, she’s back in the country where she was born, working to cement her future in America.
Two weeks ago, Calderon and her husband Luis Gordillo – an American citizen – traveled to Guatemala. The trip to her country of origin is another step in the process to her becoming a U.S. citizen.
Calderon has spent the last two weeks undergoing a myriad of tests, according to her friend and immigration activist Gabriela Domenzain. These tests lead up to next Wednesday, when Calderon, along with her husband, will present her case for citizenship at the United States embassy in Guatemala.
The goal is for Calderon to get her visa in Guatemala, which will allow her to return to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. This status would also allow her the right to work and drive.
In January 2018, Calderon was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a marriage interview at an immigration office in Johnston. She was held in ICE custody for almost a month in a facility outside Boston.
Since then, she’s been waiting to move forward with the citizenship process. Domenzain will join Calderon and Gordillo at next Wednesday’s meeting.
“Just being there at a time when she can’t have anyone else there because she doesn’t know anyone in Guatemala,” Domenzain said. “Having her have a little piece of home is something that sets me at ease.”
In the meantime, Domenzain said Calderon is disappointed to be missing Mother’s Day with her two children. On Friday, Calderon was able to FaceTime into a Mother’s Day brunch at her daughter’s school.
“How ironic is it that a country that says it’s about family and opportunity is the reason why this mother has been separated from her kids twice,” Domenzain said.
Calderon is also the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), challenging the Trump Administration’s pattern of separating married couples who are pursuing immigration status.
Several other New England couples are also involved 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.