Aug. 19 (UPI) — A man driving his pregnant wife to a hospital for delivery of their baby was detained as they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, Calif., and was taken into custody by immigration agents.
Joel Arrona-Lara, 36, was arrested Wednesday and remains in custody pending “removal proceedings,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
As Arrona-Lara was driving into a gas station while taking his wife Maria del Carmen Venegas to the hospital for a scheduled C-section, two vehicles pulled in behind the couple.
ICE agents tapped on the window of the couple’s vehicle and told Arrona-Lara to get out.
“I [asked] them why they separated good people like that,” Venegas said. “Why they did not arrest people who are bad and do bad things, let us go, but they told me that they were only doing their job. I never thought … that they would take him away, that they would hand him over, and that they would leave me at the gas station.”
Venegas showed her ID but her husband did not so he was taken away by ICE agents, leaving Venegas to drive herself to the hospital to have the baby.
Arrona-Lara’s lawyer said he had no criminal record and no arrest record.
“It is very hard because he was always there,” Venegas said after having the baby. “And he would say everything will be OK and not to worry, that we will meet the baby. And for me to be alone it feels brutal.”
ICE said Arrona-Lara is an undocumented immigrant. The statement said ICE normally focuses on people who pose a threat to public safety.
“However, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” the statement said.
The couple has lived together in Southern California for 12 years and along with the newborn have four children ages 2 to 13 years old.