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Immigrant spouse of the pregnant woman stopped on the way to the hospital

LOS ANGELES – A California woman said Saturday that she had to drive herself to the hospital to give birth without her husband, after he was arrested by the immigration agents.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the man was arrested because he was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in a murder case in Mexico.

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

Surveillance footage shows two vehicles immediately flank of the couple after they pulled into the gas station. Agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas said.

Venegas, 32, said they gave her but that Arrona had his home in their rush to the hospital. The surveillance footage shows the officers handcuffing the 35-year-old Arrona and takes him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas only at the gas station.

Venegas said they drove themselves to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of her fifth child.

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

“We need him now more than ever,” she said.

Venegas said that she and her husband came to the U.S. 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. They have no legal permission to live in the USA, and all five of their children are AMERICAN citizens, ” she said.

Venegas said her husband is a hard worker and the sole provider of the family.

In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Arrona “was brought to ICE’s attention because of an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on murder charges,” spokeswoman Lori Haley said.

ICE said agents with the agency’s Fugitive Operations Team held Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.

Although the team is giving priority to the arrest of immigrants by transnational gang members, child sex offenders and those who have had previous convictions for violent crimes, the agency’s statement said the “no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from possible enforcement.”

“All those, in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable final order, the removal of the United States,” the statement said.

Emilio Amaya Garcia, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, said his nonprofit group is offering legal assistance to Venegas and Arrona, will file a motion on Monday for an immigration judge to set a bail hearing for Arrona and will request that their removal proceedings will be cancelled.

Garcia did not respond to messages and calls for comment about the arrest warrant in Mexico.

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Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP

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