HOUSTON – "I'm not going to sit down and wait. I'm going to fight,” said a determined Rose Ascencio-Escobar.
She said her husband went to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Wednesday, as he had for five years, and was arrested.
Ascensio-Escobar told KPRC 2, "I said, ‘Where's my husband?’ ‘He's here. You can come say goodbye.’ And I said, ‘Goodbye?’ So I see my husband, his head is down. I can tell he had been crying. I mean we weren't together ... only for the hour he's been talking to these people. And I look down and said, ‘Hey, hon are you OK?’ And he goes and he had the bracelets already ... handcuffs."
She said her husband came to the United States from El Salvador when he was 14 years old.
She said he did not fill out the paperwork that would have given him legal status.
U.S. government officials said Escobar was ordered out of the country in 2006.
But ICE said he took off and became a fugitive.
He was arrested in 2011, and his wife said he spent seven months in federal custody.
ICE said he was released in 2012 and was allowed to get ready to go back to El Salvador.
But his wife said he got a work permit and faithfully checked in with ICE agents.
She assumed he would be allowed to leave the office on Wednesday, but he was arrested.
ICE said he would be returned to El Salvador.
The Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle organization is helping Ascencio-Escobar.
FIEL director of legal services Aura Espinoza said arrests are common for people who think they are going for routine meetings with ICE.
"Basically, they have to get an attorney in order to try to remain in the country. That's what we're advising everybody. Even if it is supervision and they have gone prior to supervision, we tell them to get an attorney, because we're seeing this on a daily basis where they're going and they're not coming back out," Espinoza said.
A spokesman for ICE released the following statement:
“On Feb. 22, Jose Ernesto Escobar, 31, was arrested at the Houston ICE office when he reported on an order of supervision. An immigration judge ordered Escobar removed from the United States in 2006, but instead of departing the country, he became an immigration fugitive. ICE re-arrested him in 2011, and he entered ICE custody. Mr. Escobar failed to comply with his removal order, and in January 2012, the Houston ICE field office director exercised prosecutorial discretion and released Mr. Escobar on an order of supervision so he could get his affairs in order prior to his removal to El Salvador. At this time, Mr. Escobar will be processed for removal from the United States.”