PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island woman, who was detained by immigration officials in January, says while life is finally getting back to normal, her fight is not over yet.
Lillian Calderon and her husband, Luis Gordillo, are high school sweethearts.
“We met at Mount Pleasant High School. I was a freshman, he was a senior,” Calderon said.
Calderon said years before that, the pair came to the United States with their families. Gordillo came from Mexico, and became a citizen when he turned 18. But Calderon, who was born in Guatemala and came to the United States at the age of 3, never became a citizen.
“Even though we’ve gone through the situation we’ve gone through, she’s home right now,” Gordillo said. “Unfortunately, there are other people who are being detained.”
Calderon, a mother of two, was beginning the citizenship process back in January, when she was taken into custody and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for nearly a month.
Gordillo said when Calderon was detained, he had to field questions from their 4-year-old daughter, Natalie.
“Daddy, how come you never picked mommy up from work last time?” Gordillo recalls her asking. “Because I kept saying she was at work.”
Calderon was eventually granted a 90-day stay of removal when she was released just before Valentine’s Day, but that expired on Saturday, May 12.
“The anxiety came around because you’re just waiting, hoping the extension gets approved,” Calderon said.
Calderon said she’s now been granted an extension until mid August, meaning she has time to get her immigration waivers approved, allowing her to stay in the United States.
She said her lawyer is hopeful she will be able to stay in the country. As Calderon continues to fight for her future, she said she’s keeping others in mind.
“Let’s say down the line, Natalie or Noah (her kids) meet someone whose parents brought them (to the United States) at a young age, who are also undocumented,” Calderon said. “They fall in love, get married, and now they get separated from their partners. That would break my heart that I could have done something to prevent this from happening to anyone. Not only my kids, but anyone’s kids.”
Calderon is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit the ACLU has filed, challenging the Trump Administration’s pattern of separating married couples who are pursuing immigration status.
Eyewitness News reached out to ICE officials regarding Calderon’s stay in America, but the agency said it would not comment on pending litigation.