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Pregnant Woman Forced to Drive Herself to Hospital After US Cops Arrest Migrant Husband on the Way

The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing the 35-year-old Arrona and taking him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas alone at the gas station.

Associated Press

Updated:August 19, 2018, 8:53 AM IST
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Pregnant Woman Forced to Drive Herself to Hospital After US Cops Arrest Migrant Husband on the Way
A U.S. Border Patrol agent searches for illegal immigrants near Falfurrias, Texas, U.S., August 16, 2018 (Representative Image/ Reuters)
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Los Angeles: A Californian woman said she had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband after he was detained by immigration agents on the way.

Maria del Carmen Venegas said she and her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, were driving to the hospital on Wednesday when they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.

Surveillance footage shows two vehicles immediately flank the couple's van after they pulled into the gas station.

Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas said.

Venegas, 32, said she provided hers but that Arrona had left his at home in their rush to the hospital.

The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing the 35-year-old 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.

"I feel terrible," Venegas said in a telephone interview from the hospital as her newborn son Damian cried in the background.

"We need him now more than ever," she said.

Venegas and her husband came to the US 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens, she said.

Venegas said her husband is a hard worker, the sole provider of the family and has never ever been in trouble with the police.

ICE confirmed in a statement yesterday that agents with the agency's Fugitive Operations Team detained Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.

Though the team prioritizes arresting immigrants who are transnational gang members, child sex offenders and those who've had previous convictions for violent crimes, the agency's statement 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.

Emilio Amaya Garcia, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, said his nonprofit group is providing legal help to Venegas and Arrona, will file a motion on Monday for an immigration court to set a bail hearing for Arrona and will ask that his removal proceedings be canceled.

"We strongly believe that it was an illegal arrest because they didn't have an arrest warrant and they did not have any probable cause to arrest him other than the fact that he was in the country without documents," Garcia said.

"It's a very questionable situation."

Garcia also said that agents put the baby at risk by arresting Arrona and likened their actions to the Trump's administration's temporary policy of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

"He was on his way to the hospital, his wife had a high-risk pregnancy, she was about to have the delivery, and they left her there to fend by herself," Garcia said.

"With this administration we are seeing things that wouldn't happen before. This is obviously different times."
| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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