Video footage showed a man being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents while his pregnant wife is seen sobbing from inside a gas station. News of the immigrant being taken into custody while driving his wife to the hospital to give birth ignited a substantial amount of fury. However, ICE officials have clarified why the man was arrested.
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On Wednesday, 35-year-old Joel Arrona Lara was driving his pregnant wife to a hospital when he stopped at a gas station in San Bernardino, California.
His wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, 32, was scheduled to undergo a C-section, according to a report by the Daily Mail, and Arrona was driving her to the appointment.
While at the gas station, ICE officials descended on the location, taking Arrona into custody. Surveillance footage showed the dramatic incident, including Venegas sobbing as she stood inside the convenience store.
Venegas had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband. She claimed her husband wasn’t guilty of any crimes, leading to a public outcry over the incident.
However, ICE officials later revealed that Arrona was detained on an outstanding warrant in association with a homicide case in Mexico.
In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, authorities said Arrona “was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges.”
Arrona is currently in custody and removal proceedings are pending.
While ICE typically focuses on illegal immigrants who have gang affiliations, previous violent crime convictions, or are child sex offenders, the official statement said the agency “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 continued.
Venegas stated that she came to the US with her husband 12 years ago. Neither of them is legally in the country, though all five of their children are US citizens.
She said that Arrona is a hard worker and is the family’s sole provider.