SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — A newborn is without his father Friday after immigration agents detained the man as he was taking his wife to deliver the baby.
“I feel very bad right now,” Maria del Carmen Venegas told CBS2 News in Spanish as she held her baby boy while still in her hospital gown.
Her husband Joel Arrona-Lara was driving his wife to the hospital for a scheduled Cesarean section Wednesday afternoon when they had to stop to get gas. That’s when their car was approached by two SUVs. Maria said they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The mother of five was then asked to show her identification and complied. When the agents asked Arrona-Lara, the couple said he didn’t have the ID on him, but that they lived nearby and could go get it for them. The agents then asked Arrona-Lara to exit the vehicle, searched the car for weapons, and put Arrona into custody, leaving Maria alone at the gas station.
Security video shows her visibly upset inside the convenience store.
Maria ended up having to drive herself to the hospital to deliver the baby.
“My husband needs to be here,” Maria said. “He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away.”
Maria told CBS2 Arrona-Lara, who is from Mexico, has never been stopped by police, and that he’s never been in trouble with the law, not even for a ticket. However, ICE said Saturday Arrona-Lara was picked up because he is wanted by law enforcement authorities in Mexico on an outstanding homicide warrant.
An attorney representing Arrona-Lara on behalf of the nonprofit San Bernardino Community Service Center said those charges are unconfirmed. Emilio Amaya Garcia told CBS2 he has been in contact with the Mexican consulate who said it currently has no information about ICE’s claim.
Garcia added Arrona-Lara’s detention paperwork shows he is in custody for being in the country without documentation.
In the following statement from Friday, ICE makes no mention of homicide charges, only that Arrona-Lara was taken into custody the agency’s “Fugitive Operations Team”:
“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.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money for the family. To donate, click here.
This story has been updated.