Two parents in California's Central Valley died on Tuesday while fleeing from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers, who had pulled the couple over.
The couple lost control of their SUV when it veered into a dirt shoulder.
"When they learned they were ICE agents, due to their legal status, they became very scared and as a result they took off and eventually had a crash here on Cecil avenue", he said. The couple leaves behind six children, Rodriguez said.
Officers then, the statement says, found the overturned auto and notified Delano police. However, they fled once agents began to exit their vehicle.
ICE spokeswoman Lori K. Haley confirmed the police account, adding that deportation officers initially went to the couple's home because they believed it belonged to a previously removed Mexican citizen.
"Officers performed a vehicle stop by activating their emergency equipment and as they attempted to engage the driver, the vehicle drove away at a high rate of speed". "As the officers departed the location of the attempted engagement, they came across the overturned vehicle and immediately called 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.
Local news station KRON 4 News reported that the two people, Santo Hilario Garcia, 35, and Marcelina Garcia Profecto, 33, were declared dead on the scene after losing control of the vehicle and crashing into a power line pole. In California alone, ICE said it arrested 20,201 people suspected of residing in the US illegally a year ago, saying that 81 percent of them reportedly had criminal convictions. Haley also said he had a DUI conviction in 2014.
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.
"This incident demonstrates just how unsafe ICE's unlawful practices are to our communities", ACLU's Jennie Pasquarella said.
"This incident demonstrates just how unsafe ICE's unlawful practices are to our communities", Pasquarella said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said the crash was an example of ICE "inhumane tactics" in arresting illegal immigrants. "This frightful tragedy is a direct result of ICE's inhumane tactics and the fear it provokes in hardworking people who stand to lose everything if they are deported".