Late last month, Oscar Millan—a 37-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico—was on his way to pick up his newborn son, Oscar Matias, from a Boston hospital. There, the two-week-old infant had just undergone emergency surgery to fix a case of pyloric stenosis, which was preventing Oscar Matias from properly digesting food.
He never made it to the hospital.
According to a report from ProPublica published on Friday, Millan was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while on his way to pick up his son.
“I was calling him over and over again but he wasn’t picking up and I didn’t know why,” Evanice Escudero, Millan’s longtime partner and Oscar’s mother, told the watchdog site. “I didn’t know what was going on until Oscar’s mother came to pick me up at around 11 or noon.”
Millan’s arrest and subsequent detention—first in a Boston-area facility and then in Louisiana—comes as ICE steps up its sweeps of undocumented immigrants under the Trump administration.
He initially faced a deportation order after a failed asylum bid in 2008 and was arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence, ProPublica reported, noting that while both run-ins likely put him on ICE’s radar, the police report on the DUI did not mention his immigration status.
An ICE spokesperson told the site that Millan would “remain in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.”But his detention raised eyebrows with at least one top law enforcement official back home, who questioned prioritizing his deportation over that of those who pose a more immediate threat to public safety.
“It seems odd just because he has a DUI that they would pick him up,” Steven Carl, the former police chief of Framingham, MA, where Millan lives, told Pro Publica.
“I’d think ICE would have higher priorities than that,” Carl added.
Despite the president initially insisting that ICE would focus first and foremost on targeting undocumented immigrants that pose a serious criminal threat to the public, the agency has carried out a number of high profile arrests and detentions of DACA recipients and other undocumented people with no criminal record—not just the “bad hombres” Trump infamously described.
According to ProPublica, Millan’s attorney filed an emergency request to prevent his client’s impending deportation.
“The medical needs of Evanice and their newborn son, as well as his older son, Angel, needing both of his parents to be loving and supportive, speak to why removing Oscar from his family would cause them a significant detriment,” the request read.