For many pregnant women in labor (or scheduled for a C-section), getting to the hospital is already a chaotic and scary experience. One woman was forced to face it all alone when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took her husband, who was driving her to a medical center.
Maria del Carmen Venegas and husband Joel Arrona Lara stopped for gas on Wednesday when suddenly multiple ICE vehicles encircled them. Officers asked the pair for identification, and when Arrona – who said he lost his ID – was unable to provide his, officials detained him.
“I told him we had copies at home, and that they could come with us. We were only three blocks away. They didn’t accept that, and asked Joel to get out of the car,” Venegas told Telemundo. “At first, we were calm and we thought there was a mistake. My husband does not have a bad record and does not drink. There was no reason to detain him.”
ICE handed Venegas a business card and said she could call for more information. Venegas entered the store, where security footage captured her crying. She then got into the car and drove herself to the hospital.
Initially, ICE didn’t say whether Arrona had a criminal record, but eventually said that he had an outstanding warrant for homicide charges in his native Mexico. However, his lawyer, Emilio Amaya García, denies this, stating that he “wasn’t the person ICE was looking for.” He further condemned the agency, saying, “In this case, not only did they put the life of the mother in danger, but also that of the child, who is a citizen of this country.”