This weekend, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) arrested 36-year-old Joel Arrona Lara as he was driving his heavily pregnant wife to the hospital for the birth of their child. The woman, who was left stranded on a gas station after her husband had been taken away, had to drive herself to the hospital and undergo a C-section.
Maria del Carmen Venegas, the woman in question, told Telemundo that she and her husband were driving to a hospital for the birth of their first child. On their way, the two stopped at a gas station near their home.
Soon, multiple SUVs swooped in on them. ICE officials emerged from the vehicles and asked the woman and her husband for their IDs. The woman showed them hers; while her husband was unable to do so, claiming he had lost it.
Joel is a Mexican immigrant who moved to the USA 12 years ago. The couple offered to take the ICE officers to their home and show them copies.
"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.
Even in the midst of their questioning, Maria says she managed to remain calm. She reassured herself that her husband does not have a bad record, does not drink, and should be able to walk out of the investigation soon.
That, however, did not happen.
The ICE officials asked Joel to get out of the car and checked to see if he was carrying any weapons. They then turned to his wife, gave her a card with the ICE contact number on it, and told her to get in touch for further information. The ICE officers arrested Joel, put him in their vehicles and sped away, leaving his wife alone in a gas station on her due date.
Recalling the moment it dawned on her that immigration had “taken” her husband away, Maria said she was “destroyed” and “could not stop crying.”
The CCTV footage of that time showed Maria tearfully talking to someone on her phone. Maria’s situation was even more alarming since she was suffering from preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication that involves high blood pressure.
The excessive duress right before pregnancy could have exacerbated Maria’s condition and caused her BP to surge.
Maria drove herself to the hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy.
Now, Emilio Amaya García, Maria’s lawyer, is asserting that Joel was not the person ICE was looking for and called the arrest “collateral”. The lawyer also accused ICE of endangering the lives of the mother and the child.
"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," Emilio Amaya García, Arrona Lara's lawyer, told Univision.
In a statement released from ICE, the agency claimed that Joel had an outstanding warrant of homicide charges in Mexico against him.
In recent times, ICE has intensified its activities against immigrants living in the USA.
Washington Post reported that the number of arrests by ICE has surged to such a degree that the agency will now have to shift 1,600 detainees to federal prisons to address the problem of overflowing detention centers.
Recently, in Oregon, ICE officials misidentified a Latino American citizen as an undocumented immigrant and harassed him and his wife. Incidents like these support the claims made by activists that ICE was formed not to battle the supposed problem of illegal immigration, but to uphold white supremacy.
People on social media were outraged at the way ICE treated the couple.
This is absolutely devastating. Another day, another horrifying article about the cruelty of @ICEgov.— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) August 18, 2018
No one is illegal.
This is not how we should treat one another.#AbolishICE https://t.co/jgIqG0PGal
ICE detained Joel while he drove his wife to the hospital to deliver their baby.— Abdul El-Sayed (@AbdulElSayed) August 19, 2018
How is government serving its purpose here? How does this better society?
This leaves a mom without a partner, a baby without a father, and us without a soul.#AbolishICEhttps://t.co/XEy7609HXz
Imagine - if you will - a world where nobody could be detained when they stopped to get gas while taking their wife to the hospital so she could give birth.https://t.co/3eJv6Pmrwv— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) August 18, 2018
#ICE arrests a man driving his pregnant wife to the hospital to deliver their first son—leaving mom to drive herself & deliver the baby ALONE.— Rev. Cornell Wm. Brooks, Esq. (@CornellWBrooks) August 18, 2018
No doubt, rule-loving legalistas will say this “illegal” couple got what they deserved.
STONE COLD HEARTLESS https://t.co/5bUljMYl5s
Is this what Americans want their immigration police to be doing? ICE detains man driving pregnant wife to deliver their baby—leaving her to drive herself to the hospital: https://t.co/37xiNOsXcy— Eric Pape (@ericpape) August 19, 2018
It is shocking that this kind of cruelty now happens in the U.S. on a regular basis and in situations where the victims do not pose a threat to anyone. This is not who we are as a people and it is not the way as a nation we treat other human beings. ?????? https://t.co/CwO29q9kbA— Positive Politics (@DaleDiamond6) August 18, 2018
This is against all #ICE rules: a man was detained while driving his wife to the hospital to deliver their baby.— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) August 18, 2018
She was forced to drive herself to the hospital and deliver their baby alone.
This level of cruelty is simply heartbreaking. https://t.co/s5LulSAdoV
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