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 CBS Los Angeles in Spanish as she held her baby boy while still in her hospital gown.
Her husband Joel Arrona 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, 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 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 told CBS Arrona has never been stopped by police, and that he’s never been in trouble with the law, not even for a ticket. 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 said the family is working on hiring an attorney to get Arrona released.
ICE made the following statement to another media outlet Friday evening.
“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.