A mother and father in Delano, California were killed in a vehicle crash early Tuesday morning while fleeing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Newsweek reports, after officers mistook the father for another Mexican citizen they planned to arrest. ICE officers mistook Garcia for a Mexican citizen they were seeking to arrest after the couple got into their SUV and headed out to look for work on farms.
Police in Delano, a city in Kern County, California, said 35-year-old Santo Hilario Garcia and 33-year-old Marcelina Garcia Profecto were both pronounced dead at the scene after officers arrived to find their SUV overturned after smashing into a power pole just before 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
Family members said Santos Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Garcia Profecto had been in the United States for 15 years, were farmworkers and had six children ranging in age from 8 to 18 years old.
United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez held a press conference after the crash, where he said Garcia and Profecto were looking for work when they encountered the agents.
The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it drifted onto a dirt shoulder and the driver lost control, the Delano Police Department said on Facebook. They then saw a man matching his description leave the residence and get in an SUV.
The ICE agents were searching for a Mexican citizen who had been deported, according to agency spokeswoman Lori Haley.
"As the officers departed the location of the attempted engagement, they came across the overturned vehicle and immediately dialed 911 for assistance".
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The spokesperson said Garcia was originally from Mexico and had voluntarily returned to the country three times between 2008 and 2017. His criminal history included a 2014 driving under the influence conviction.
According to the agents, the driver initially pulled over, but fled after the agents exited their vehicle.
Delano police were called to the scene before handing over the investigation to the department's traffic division because of the "severity of the collision", police said.
"This week's operation targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens, individuals with final orders of removal, those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed, and individuals who have otherwise violated our nation's immigration law", said Greg Archambeault, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in San Diego.
He says the couple left their home Tuesday morning to search for work, and at some point were pulled over. These raids occur as President Donald Trump's administration ramps up its fight against undocumented immigrants.
"This incident demonstrates just how unsafe ICE's unlawful practices are to our communities", ACLU's Jennie Pasquarella said.