United States District Judge Mark Wolf is demanding answers from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding Lilian Calderon and individuals like her who have been detained by ICE while seeking to validate their marriages to United States citizens and become lawful permanent residents.
Lilian Calderon was detained by ICE during a routine visit immigration visit to establish the legitimacy of her marriage to her husband, a United States citizen. She is the mother of two children, both United States citizens. After a month in prison, during which the ACLU filed a lawsuit on her behalf, Calderon was released by ICE on February 13th without explanation.
Having released Calderon, ICE sought to have the suit brought by the ACLU of Rhode Island and the ACLU of Massachusetts dismissed as moot. Judge Wolf demurred, noting that, “Calderon’s release before a hearing previously scheduled for February 21, 2018 is part of a pattern that has emerged in related cases assigned to the court.”
Wolf then went on to describe the cases of other persons detained by ICE in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, remarking on their similarity to the case of Lilian Calderon. In his court order, Judge Wolf writes that Calderon “alleges that at least three other aliens similarly seeking permanent resident status as spouses of United States citizens were also arrested by ICE at a [United Sates Citizenship and Immigration Services] office in January 2018.”
“The court has not been informed of the procedures that led to Calderon’s release, the reasons for it, or whether ICE asserts that it had lawfully detained Calderon and has the authority to do so again in the same manner,” wrote Judge Wolf. “Nor has the court been advised of the status of the aliens alleged to be similarly situated to Calderon,” except for one.
Seeking answers from ICE, Judge Wolf ordered that respondents shall, by noon on February 21, 2018, file an affidavit from an ICE representative describing:
- the official who made the original decision that Calderon should be detained;
- the legal basis for the decision, including whether ICE considered her detention mandatory or discretionary;
- the procedures followed in reaching the decision and, if any, the individualized reasons for it;
- the official who decided that Calderon should be released;
- the reason(s) for her release;
- the reason(s) why she was released on February 13, 2018, rather than sooner or later;
- whether respondents assert that they had, and still have, the authority to detain Calderon without an individualized determination of dangerousness and risk of flight;
- whether Calderon has been released for a defined period of time and, therefore, may be detained again;
- whether any individuals other than Calderon and de Oliveira were arrested while taking steps to seek permanent residency at a Massachusetts or Rhode Island CIS office in January 2018;
- if so, whether any of those individuals have received individualized determinations of dangerousness and risk of flight; and
- whether any of them have also been released.
“We are pleased that Judge Wolf appears to recognize the games that ICE is playing with people’s lives. We are hopeful that the response that ICE must give will shed light on their disturbing practices,” wrote Steven Brown, ACLU of Rhode Island executive director.
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