ICE de­tains man on way to hos­pi­tal with preg­nant wife

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Local - BY MATTHEW MARTINEZ [email protected]

A 36-year-old un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant could be de­ported af­ter be­ing ap­pre­hended by Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents while driv­ing his preg­nant wife to the hos­pi­tal to de­liver their baby.

In­stead of be­ing with his wife at the hos­pi­tal af­ter the planned ce­sarean sec­tion de­liv­ery Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, Joel Ar­rona-Lara was be­ing held by Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, an ICE state­ment said, ac­cord­ing to a trans­lated re­port by KMEX, a Span­ish-lan­guage TV sta­tion in Los An­ge­les.

Ar­rona-Lara was driv­ing María del Car­men Vene­gas to the hos­pi­tal in San Bernardi­nowhere the pro­ce­dure was sched­uled, the sta­tion re­ported, when they pulled into a gas sta­tion to re­fuel. The re­port said ICE agents tapped on the win­dow of the cou­ple’s ve­hi­cle and ul­ti­mately told Ar­rona-Lara to get out.

“I [asked] them why they sep­a­rated good peo­ple like that,” Vene­gas said, ac­cord­ing to a trans­lated ver­sion of a re­port by Span­ish lan­guage sta­tion KVEA. “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.”

Se­cu­rity video from out­side the gas sta­tion, posted on­line with the KVEA re­port, shows agents dressed in jack­ets em­bla­zoned with “PO­LICE” lead­ing a hand­cuffed Ar­rona-Lara into an SUV. In­side the gas sta­tion, footage shows a dis­traught Vene­gas talk­ing on a cell­phone and point­ing as her hus­band is taken away.

The cou­ple has lived to­gether in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for 12 years and have four other chil­dren, KVEA re­ported.

Vene­gas drove her­self the rest of the way to the hos­pi­tal, the sta­tion re­ported, but was hours late for her sched­uled ap­point­ment and was told by doc­tors she had el­e­vated blood pres­sure at the time she ar­rived. Her hus­band, 36, is an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant from Mex­ico, the re­port said.

“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.,” ICE spokes­woman Lori Ha­ley wrote in a state­ment. “Mr. Ar­rona-Lara is cur­rently in ICE cus­tody pend­ing re­moval pro­ceed­ings with the Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice for Im­mi­gra­tion Re­view.

“ICE con­tin­ues to fo­cus its en­force­ment re­sources on in­di­vid­u­als who pose a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, public safety and bor­der se­cu­rity,” the state­ment con­tin­ued. “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.”

TELEMUNDO 52 Video screen­shots

Joel Ar­rona-Lara, a 36-year-old un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant from Mex­ico, faces de­por­ta­tion af­ter ICE agents de­tained him Wed­nes­day while he drove his preg­nant wife, Mario del Car­men Vene­gas, to a San Bernardino hos­pi­tal.

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