The American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition in federal court shortly before
midnight yesterday to seek the immediate release of Rhode Island resident Lilian
Calderon from an immigration detention facility. The lawsuit, filed in Boston by the
ACLU of Massachusetts with support from the ACLU of Rhode Island, argues that
Calderon’s continued detention is a violation of her constitutional right to due process
and federal immigration laws and regulations.
The petition for habeas corpus seeks her release from custody and a court order barring
immigration officials from deporting her until she is provided the opportunity to receive
decisions on, and seek judicial review of, administrative remedies she is pursuing.
Calderon, 30 years old, is a Guatemalan immigrant and mother of two who has been
detained by immigration officials since January 17th. She has lived in the U.S. since
she was three-years-old. The mother of two young children ages 1 and 4, Ms. Calderon
was detained by ICE when she went with her husband, a U.S. citizen, to the Providence
field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Johnston as part of the
process of applying for lawful permanent resident status. Calderon is currently being
held at the Suffolk County House of Corrections, and she risks being deported at any
The petition argues that without the court’s intervention, “the government will continue to
detain Ms. Calderon, and may undertake efforts to remove her, in violation of federal
law, federal regulations, and due process—and at great risk to her already-traumatized
children.” The petition further notes that in going to the interview in Johnston to seek to
change her legal status, “Calderon followed procedures that the government itself has
prescribed for avoiding such a tragedy. In effect, the government’s left hand beckoned
her forward, and its right hand grabbed her.”
The ACLU petition notes the effect of the detention on Calderon’s two children:
“Petitioner’s abrupt detention has already caused significant harm to her
four-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son. Her daughter has begun
having nightmares three or four times a night, bursting into tears without
warning, crying for her mother, and becoming frightened by brief
separations from other family members. Her son can no longer sleep in his
crib on his own and becomes distressed because his mother is not there to
soothe him.”
The petition argues that because Calderon “was detained without any determination
that she poses a danger or flight risk, and because she in fact poses no danger or flight
risk, her detention violates due process.”