PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A federal judge barred the removal of a Guatemalan mother on Tuesday while a lawsuit filed by civil liberties activists challenging her detention is pending.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a petition in federal court in Boston late Monday seeking the immediate release of 30-year-old Lilian Calderon, who is being held in a Boston prison.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities detained Calderon, who has been living in Rhode Island, Jan. 17 based on a final order of removal from 2002. Her lawyer also is asking for that case to be reopened.

ACLU attorney Adriana Lafaille said Calderon was following the process the government has provided to become a lawful, permanent resident, and there is no justification for her continued detention because she’s not a flight risk and poses no danger to the community. She called Calderon’s detention arbitrary, unlawful and inhumane.

Spokesmen for the Department of Homeland Security and ICE said they don’t comment on pending litigation.

Calderon’s husband, Luis Gordillo, a U.S. citizen, said in a news conference that his wife’s detention is hurting him and disrupting the lives of their 4-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son. He spoke at the ACLU of Rhode Island.


“My daughter, a few days after this happened, she asked me why mommy left. How come her friends have a mom and she doesn’t,” Gordillo said, trying to hold back tears. “And that’s very hurtful because that’s not the facts. She never left us. She was taken from us.”

Gordillo said he speaks to Calderon daily and she’s confused, hurt and scared. He said he has severe anxiety, but he’s also optimistic because he feels they were doing the right thing and following the law.

Calderon was detained when she appeared for a routine interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to discuss her marriage, according to the ACLU. Calderon’s parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 3 years old. She became the subject of a final order of removal as a teenager because her father’s asylum application was denied.

Her application for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was denied because immigration officials felt she hadn’t provided sufficient evidence of her continued presence in the U.S. She sought permanent residency status because of her 2016 marriage to Gordillo, her high school sweetheart.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.