For more than three months, Lucimar de Souza sat in a Suffolk County jail, separated from her husband and 10-year-old son in Everett.
A Brazilian national who crossed the southern border illegally in 2002, she had been trying to attain legal permanent status in the United States through her husband, Sergio Francisco, an American citizen who she married in 2006. On Jan. 30, she and Francisco went to John F. Kennedy Federal Building Government Center and met with officials of US Citizenship and Immigration Services who told her the government had deemed her marriage legitimate and she could proceed with her visa application.
Moments later, the 49-year-old housekeeper said she was arrested by five officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and taken to jail. De Souza, who also has two older daughters, is among at least 14 immigrants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island who had already applied for permanent residency when they were detained by ICE.
De Souza and her husband, along with four other married couples, have sued the Trump Administration accusing the federal government of a “bait and switch” in which immigrants who are following a legal path to seek permanent residency through their American spouse are arrested and detained by ICE.
ICE has said the agency has the right to detain any immigrant who has previously been ordered removed from the country.
On Tuesday, de Souza was released from jail after a judge criticized the federal government for failing to give timely notice to her and her lawyer about the status of her detention, a violation of Department of Homeland Security regulations.
Her son, who had become so despondent while she was gone that he begged to stay in jail with her, burst into tears and collapsed in her arms when he saw her.
De Souza was taken aback by his sobs.
“ ‘Why did you cry?’ ” she said she asked him later.
“I was really happy,” he replied.