Providence woman held by ICE describes her ordeal

Lilian Calderon and her husband,  Luis Gordillo, speak at a news conference arranged by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island in Providence, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (WJAR)

A Rhode Island woman who was detained by immigration officials for several weeks spoke out about her ordeal Wednesday.

Lilian Calderon and her husband, Luis Gordillo, spoke at a news conference arranged by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.

Calderon said the system is broken and it's too easy for people like her to fall into the cracks.

"I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything wrong that would put me in this position," she said through tears. "All tried to do was go to an interview with my husband."

Calderon, 30, was released Tuesday after Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, granted her a three-month stay of deportation. A federal judge barred her deportation last week after the American Civil Liberties Union sued.

Gordillo said he told their children, ages 2 and 4, that their mother was at work for the past month. In reality, she was being held in a Boston jail.

"I met a few other women who were also there because they also went to their immigration interview with their husbands who are citizens and they have citizen children and then they were detained as well, with no reason with no explanation. Some there for a month two months or three months. I met a lady that was there for three years."

She continued, “And all I could think of while I was there is that I can’t believe I’m sitting through a video of how to not get raped in prison. Because just the other day I was picking up my daughter from school and I was thinking what are we going to do for winter so we can beat cabin fever, and here I am just a couple of days later watching these videos on rape, and drugs, and domestic violence.”

Calderon came to the United States from Guatemala at age 3. She was arrested in January in an immigration office in Johnston, where she had gone voluntarily to try to verify her marriage to her American husband.

ICE, in its letter releasing Calderon, said “in your application for a Stay of Deportation or removal, it has been determined that the granting of such discretionary relief is warranted in this case. Therefore, your Application for a Stay of Deportation or removal is hereby approved for a period of 3 months, until May 12, 2018. At the end of that period, the status of your case will be reviewed for a determination of whether the removal order will be executed at that time.”

Calderon's lawyer and attorneys from the ACLU are hoping they can get her status changed before then.

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