LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California woman has said she had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband after he was detained by immigration agents.
Maria del Carmen Venegas said she and her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, were driving to the hospital Wednesday when they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.
Surveillance footage obtained by several media outlets shows two vehicles immediately flank the couple's van after they pulled into the gas station. Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas told KMEX-TV on Thursday.
She said she was able to provide hers but that Arrona had left his at home in their rush to the hospital. The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing Arrona and taking him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas alone at the gas station.
Venegas said she drove herself to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of her fifth child.
"My husband needs to be here," Venegas told KCBS-TV on Friday as she held her newborn son. "He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away."
Arrona, who is from Mexico, has lived in the U.S. for 12 years without legal authorization, Venegas said, but added that he's a hard worker, the sole provider of the family and has never been in trouble with the police.
ICE confirmed in a statement Saturday that agents detained Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.
The agency said it "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," the statement said.
Venegas said she has not been able to contact her husband to tell him their new son was born and doing well.
"The last thing he knew was that I was here in the hospital," she said. "I'm sure he's worried."
She said she is seeking an attorney in hopes of getting Arrona released.
KMEX-TV story (in Spanish). KCBS-TV story (in English).
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