SAN BERNARDINO – A California woman says her husband was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents while he drove her to the hospital to deliver their baby this week. Joel Arrona was arrested Wednesday in San Bernardino, California, and remains in custody pending “removal proceedings,” the federal agency said in a statement.
Arrona was driving his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section when they stopped to get gas. She said two ICE agents approached them and asked for identification, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Venegas showed the agents her ID, but said her husband did not have his with him. When the couple offered to get his ID at their home nearby, Arrona was taken into custody. Venegas said she was left at the gas station by herself and she was forced to drive herself to the hospital.
“I feel very bad right now,” Venegas told CBS Los Angeles in Spanish at the hospital as she held her baby boy. “My husband needs to be here. He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away.”
Venegas, a mother of five, said he has never been stopped by police nor has she ever been in trouble with the law. She said her family is working on hiring an attorney in an attempt to get her husband released.
In a statement, ICE said Arrona is a Mexican citizen who has been living in the U.S. illegally.
“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,” the agency said in a statement.
It added, “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.”