BOSTON (CBS) – A New England mother has become the face of a lawsuit against the Trump Administration after she says she was torn from her family during an immigration hearing.
“I was handcuffed and taken through the back of the building and put into a van,” said Lilian Calderon.
She says ICE agents suddenly moved in as she attended a required first meeting with U.S. Customs to obtain legal permanent residency.
The Rhode Island woman is the mother of a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.
“I was very frightened, I started to cry immediately. I thought of my kids because I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to them,” she said.
Calderon ended up at the Suffolk County House of Correction where she was detained for a month, uncertain if she would be deported to her native Guatemala.
She was brought by her family to the United States when she was three years old and ended up marrying her high school sweetheart Luis Gordillo who is an American citizen. Now she’s part of a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“People should not have to fear ending up in prison for playing by the government’s own policies to address their immigration status,” said Steve Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU.
Calderon says her case is still in jeopardy because she was granted only a three-month stay of removal and the application process is lengthier than that.
“I’m very afraid I’m going to be separated from my family again,” she said.
She’s not alone since the class action lawsuit includes four other Massachusetts families, nine children in all, with a non-citizen spouse facing deportation.
She says no one should have to be afraid.
“If you stay in the shadows and don’t try to fix this issue, the government will keep on doing this to other families over and over,” she said.
ICE won’t comment on the suit while Calderon is waiting for the day she won’t have to look over her shoulder.