When Luis Gordillo and his wife went to have their marriage verified by immigration authorities in Johnston, she ended up in jail.
“They locked her up there. I wasn’t able to see her anymore and they were going to take her to Suffolk Correction in Boston,” he told NBC 10 News on Friday.
Gordillo is from Mexico, but became an American citizen shortly after graduating from Mt. Pleasant High School in Providence. He met his wife, Lilian, there. She came from Guatemala with her family when she was 3 years old, but was unable to get her citizenship.
The couple married in 2016 after having two children.
“We wanted to get married earlier when we were younger, but we always had that concern, 'What if she gets caught, picked up by immigration?" Gordillo said. " Once we had our children, we decided, 'Let’s get married and we’ll start the process, me trying to sponsor you and give you legal status in the U.S.' We thought we were doing things the proper way, and then this happened.”
The interview with authorities, which took place on Wednesday, seemed to be going fine. The couple presented pictures and documents proving they were actually married, and not just pretending in order to get her into the country.
After Gordillo was interviewed, Lilian went into the room.
“She said that everything was going along fine. The gentleman that did the interview said, 'This sounds like a real marriage. I approve this. Everything, you guys have everything that we need to prove this is a real marriage,'" Gordillo said. "And then she said the gentleman received a phone call and he told her, 'There’s a gentleman outside my office that wants to ask you a question.' And she said when she went out, the ICE officer told her she was being detained because she had a deportation order."
Gordillo said his wife has been calling him from the detention center in Boston. But he doesn’t know how this is going to turn out, and his four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter are confused.
“She has two small children who miss her, and we miss her, as well. And they’re constantly asking, 'Where’s mommy? And I don’t know what to say other than, 'She’s working,'" Gordillo said.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Boston is working to learn more about the case.