EXCLUSIVE: Illegal Immigrant Arrested While Driving Wife To Hospital Is Wanted For Murder In Mexico

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

An illegal alien who was arrested in southern California while taking his pregnant wife to the hospital is wanted for murder in Mexico, immigration authorities said Saturday.

Joel Arrona Lara, 36, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on Wednesday at a gas station in San Bernardino, California. At the time, Arrona was taking his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section, CBS 2 Los Angeles reported.

News of Arrona Lara’s arrest quickly spread nationally, with several media outlets characterizing it as an example of the Trump administration’s heavy-handed crackdown on illegal immigration. Venegas told CBS 2 in Spanish that Arrona Lara had never been stopped by police and didn’t have a criminal record of any kind, including traffic violations. (RELATED: Woman Arrested At Suspected Jihadi Compound Is 20-Year Visa Overstay)

But immigration authorities say Arrona Lara is not just an otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrant. He is also wanted by Mexican authorities for murder.

“Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Security footage from the gas station shows Arrona Lara getting out of his car and being intercepted by ICE officers. A visibly distraught Venegas is then seen using a phone shortly after Arrona Lara is taken away.

Arrona Lara’s lawyer, Emilio Amaya Garcia, accused ICE officers of endangering Venegas and her unborn baby.

“In this case, not only did they put the life of the mother in danger, but also that of the child, who is a citizen of this country,” he told Univision on Thursday.

Arrona Lara has reportedly been living illegally in the U.S. for 12 years. ICE released the following statement about his arrest on Friday:

“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.”

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