Joel Arrona Lara was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while driving his wife to the hospital to deliver their child, CBSLA, Univision and other outlets have reported.
Maria del Carmen Venegas, Arrona’s then-pregnant wife, drove herself to a San Bernardino, California hospital for her own Cesarean section Wednesday after ICE arrested her husband at a gas station on the drive over.
The ICE agents asked him to step out of the vehicle after he was unable to produce identification, despite the couple protesting that they lived nearby and could go get it, Venegas said.
“The last thing he knew was that I was here in the hospital,” she told Univision.
Arrona Lara has never been in trouble with the law, she said.
But, beginning early in the Trump administration, ICE announced that it “no longer exempt[s] classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” meaning even law-abiding undocumented people face the constant threat of deportation.
Update: More than a day after the first reports of this arrest surfaced — and days after the arrest itself, which occurred on Wednesday — ICE released a second statement Saturday afternoon, claiming that “Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges.”
“Using the name and date of birth, we couldn’t find anything saying he was in any criminal proceedings,” the family’s legal representative, Emilio Amayo, told NBC News in response.
See ICE’s original statement to CBSLA, which made no mention of these charges, below:
“Mr. Arrona-Lara, a citizen of Mexico illegally residing in the United States, was taken into custody Wednesday by ICE Fugitive Operations Team officers in San Bernardino, Calif. Mr. Arrona-Lara is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
“ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. 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.”