EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In a sit-down interview with Eyewitness News Friday night, Lilian Calderon, of Providence, said she and her family are grateful a lawsuit filed on her behalf will move forward.
In a Boston federal courthouse Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ruled a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Massachusetts against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can move forward despite the government’s attempt to have it dismissed.
“With the ruling, it just makes us a little more comfortable again,” Luis Gordillo, Calderon’s husband, told Eyewitness News. “It’s a long process, but we know we should at least be okay for now.”
Lilian Calderon is the lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit. It argues non-citizen immigrants should be granted temporary relief to remain in the country while they work to get legal status. Several other New England couples are also named in the suit.
“Family separation isn’t just happening on the border. It’s happening in Warwick,” Gabriela Domenzain, a friend of Calderon’s, said. “It’s happening in Boston. And all around the country.”
Domenzain is also the former director of The Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.
In January, Lilian Calderon was taken into custody by ICE officials after a marriage interview at an immigration office in Johnston. The Guatemalan native, who came to Rhode Island as a toddler, said she thought she was taking the next step to become a lawful, permanent resident.
But, the ACLU’s lawsuit alleges she was unlawfully arrested and detained for nearly a month in Boston.
“We were blind-sighted,” Calderon said. “We didn’t know our routine interview was going to end up in us being separated.”
“Even though they give couples specific laws to follow, and that Lilian and Luis and people like them are within their rights to apply and be citizens so they can stay united, [the government] is using their own laws to trap people,” Domenzain added.
There is no word yet on when Calderon’s case will be heard. A spokesperson for ICE has declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.
Right now, Calderon is still working to become a U.S. citizen. She’s currently waiting on a waiver to get approved. which will allow her to make the trip to the U.S. Consulate in Guatemala.
“To know that so many other Rhode Islanders have support for us and nothing but love, it’s heartwarming,” Calderon said. “It’s kind of like the silver lining in all this. To know our neighbors, our community, really showed up to help us and didn’t let us down.”