A 32-year-old mother was arrested by federal immigration agents Feb. 11 after dropping her daughter off at a pre-school in South Philadelphia.
Veronica Carmen Lara-Marquez said she was detained and eventually released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at a bus stop near Kirkbride Elementary School on South Seventh Street.
An ICE spokesman confirmed her arrest and that Lara-Marquez "was briefly detained before being released for humanitarian reasons."
Lara-Marquez told NBC10 she is three months pregnant.
"In May 2012, an immigration judge issued Lara-Marquez a final order of removal in absentia," a ICE spokesman said in an email. "Humanitarian factors and potential mitigating circumstances are considered for every individual encountered by ICE. A detention decision is made on a case-by-case basis based upon the totality of the circumstances."
Lara-Marquez's arrest has prompted the Philadelphia School District to remind all staff, teachers and personnel at schools about protocol when dealing with federal immigration investigators, according to a KYW Newsradio published report.
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"A mother dropped her child off to the Head Start program and then, as we understand, was taken into custody by ICE, but later released,” Superintendent William Hite told KYW Newsradio. “We've been working with the city to ensure that there are no efforts to concentrate around schools, at the opening and closing of schools.”
The ICE spokesman did not respond to questions about whether agents have any arrest policies related to parents dropping children off at schools. Two spokeswomen for the school district did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Lara-Marquez, who says she is from El Salvador, told Telemundo62 in an interview that her arrest stems from her failure to continue reporting for immigration hearings in Virginia. She said she previously lived there.
She currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children. She said she immigrated to the United States in 2011, and has lived in Philadelphia since 2012.
Lara-Marquez initially believed she was being abducted when the plainclothes federal agents approached her at the bus stop, she said, before realizing they were arresting her for the nearly 8-year-old court order.