ICE explains reasoning for detaining Rhode Island mother

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A federal judge received answers Wednesday from Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials (ICE) as to why a Rhode Island woman was detained in January.

Lilian Calderon, 30, of Providence, was brought to the United States when she was three years old from Guatemala. Calderon was going through the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident, when she was detained and put into ICE custody. She was held for nearly a month — released on Feb. 13.

The Rhode Island ACLU shared information last Friday regarding U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf’s demand for an explanation as to why ICE detained Calderon. According to the ACLU, ICE officials wanted to dismiss a motion, which challenged Calderon’s detention and sought to prevent her deportation.

Judge Wolf in turn questioned whether Calderon’s release invalidated ICE’s petition, citing a pattern by ICE officials of detainment and subsequent release once legal action was taken. In a memorandum, Wolf also demanded ICE offer details as to why Calderon was detained in the first place.

An affidavit submitted by ICE officials Wednesday listed three reasons for Calderon’s detainment:

  • ICE belived her 2002 order of removal rendered her a flight risk
  • According to ICE, there was a “lack of child care issues” for her two young children
  • ICE said there was the availability of bed space at their detention facility in Boston

“We find it absolutely appalling that a young mother, with two young children, would be taken away simply because ICE had bed space to put her in,” R.I. ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said.

Calderon was taken into ICE custody at an immigration office in Johnston, when she went with her husband to apply for legal status on Jan. 17.

“They just put handcuffs on me and said I had to go with them, and I couldn’t see [my husband] and I couldn’t speak to him,” Calderon said.

Calderon was released last week after spending nearly a month in ICE custody.

A new affidavit said one of the reasons for her release was because of her ties to the community.

“I think it just demonstrates just how arbitrary these detentions going on by ICE really are and it’s quite disturbing,” Calderon said.

The affidavit also indicates that six other people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were going through the same process as Calderon last month and were detained as well. According to the affidavit, Calderon can be rearrested by ICE after being released for 90 days. The ACLU says they will continue to fight on her behalf.