By Jamie Ducharme
August 18, 2018

Immigration agents in California on Wednesday detained a man who was driving his pregnant wife to the hospital to deliver a baby.

Maria del Carmen Venegas said she had to drive herself to the hospital for a scheduled Caesarean section after her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the Associated Press reports.

“My husband needs to be here,” Venegas told CBS Los Angeles after giving birth to a baby boy. “He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away.”

The couple was approached by ICE agents asking to see identification when they stopped at a San Bernardino gas station on their way to the hospital Wednesday, Venegas told CBS. Venegas showed her ID when asked, but the couple reportedly told the ICE agents that Arrona did not have his with him. The agents then searched the couple’s car and took Arrona into custody, Venegas told CBS.

Venegas, who can be seen sobbing in gas station surveillance footage, confirmed that her husband, who is from Mexico, has been living in the U.S. illegally for 12 years, according to AP.

ICE representatives confirmed in a statement provided to TIME that Arrona had been taken into custody.

“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,” the statement reads. “Mr. Arrona-Lara is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).”

The statement also adds that, “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.”

Venegas, a mother of five, told CBS that the family will try to hire a lawyer to advocate for her husband’s release.


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