Undocumented immigrant who faced deportation speaks out

DAVENPORT, Iowa--Maria Concepcion Hernandez Calderon was only 16 years-old when she crossed from Mexico into the United States illegally.

She wanted to start a new life with her husband.

He was able to gain his U.S Citizenship but for her it was more of a challenge.

They both spent thousands of dollars on her path to citizenship but the cost was too great and was put on hold while their family grew.

"We spent more than $7,000 dollars and it wasn’t a guaranteed thing. And then they were asking for another $5,000 dollars," said Calderon.

Fifteen years later, she now calls Davenport her home.

Calderon is just like any other stay-at-home mom who helps her six children, all U.S citizens, with their homework right after school.

As an undocumented immigrant, the fear of deportation was always in the back of her mind, but that fear almost came true.

On Wednesday, December 13th, Davenport Police arrested 31 year-old Calderon for shoplifting items valued at $50 dollars.

Calderon says the incident was all a big misunderstanding and says the charges were dropped.

"It wasn't intentional I had the money to pay for the items," said Calderon.

Still, Davenport Police took her to Scott County Jail. While being booked, she was asked for her social security number, to which Calderon replied she didn't have one and admitted she was not a legal citizen.

According to Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane they have an agreement and policy with ICE officials that require them to notify of an undocumented immigrant.

Shortly after, immigration officials, or ICE, were notified and Calderon spent the night in Scott County Jail.

Because of Calderon's immigration status her husband was unable to post bond.

On Thursday afternoon, December 14th, ICE officials picked her up from the jail and transported her to an immigration facility in Cedar Rapids.

She was unable to notify her husband that she was being taken to Cedar Rapids.

"They wouldn't let me speak to him. They told me I had to wait until we got to the immigration facility," said Calderon.

While in custody she feared she would never see her children again.

"My children, they were the only thing on my mind through all of this. I'm still breastfeeding my youngest one. A lot was going through my mid through that moment," said Calderon.

She also was worried about the dangers she could face if she was deported back to her hometown in Guanajuato, Mexico.

"Recently there have been a lot of things happening where I used to live. There have been killings and their bodies thrown away. They also cut people's heads off and took them to our hometown church," said Calderon.

Family, friends and local activist groups rallied at the Scott County Courthouse, demanding the release of Calderon.

But just before the rally began at 5:00 p.m., Calderon was released to her family.

"I was really happy to know that I wasn't alone," said Calderon.

It's unclear why she was released but Calderon says her husband hired an attorney to help her get out.

She said their attorney is currently reviewing her case and has to do regular check-ins with ICE in Cedar Rapids.

If she misses any of the check-ins, Calderon said she could face deportation again.

After being reunited with her family she now hopes to get back on the path to citizenship.

"I'm really happy. I feel like there is hope for the future," said Calderon.