‘I was blindsided’: How a routine immigration interview turned into an arrest
By Maria Cramer
At first, the conversation with the two immigration officials was friendly.
They said they believed her marriage to an American citizen was genuine, Lilian Calderon Jimenez recalled. Her application to become a permanent resident was cleared to move forward.
They even chatted about sports, teasing her over her love for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Calderon said.
A few moments later, they told the Providence woman that officers from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement were in the other room. They wanted to speak with her briefly, they said.
Minutes later on that January morning, Calderon, a 30-year-old waitress, was in handcuffs, sobbing. Her husband, Luis Gordillo, who had been waiting outside, was told by government officials that she was in federal custody. They handed him a binder of family photos and documents Calderon had brought to the interview, to prove their relationship was real.
“You’re all set,” he recalled they said, then walked away as he stood in a daze.
Calderon, who was brought to the United States illegally when she was 3, would spend nearly a month in a Boston jail, while her husband, her immigration attorney, and lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union fought for her release. She was placed in the South Bay House of Correction’s immigration unit, where she and other women arrested by immigration authorities received little to no information about what might happen to them, she said. Calderon’s lawyer did not know why she was placed in that facility.
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