ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Immigration Customs Enforcement agents arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants throughout San Diego County last week based on deportation orders.
Escondido resident Dario Bautista was one of them despite him saying he has a legal right to be in the United States.
Bautista said he noticed the agents were parked on his street just as he left for work on Tuesday, April 17. As he drove away, agents pulled him over.
"I got out of my car with hands up because I noticed agents had their guns pointed at me," said Bautista.
Before stopping for the agents, Bautista called his wife and asked her to bring out documents showing that he was in the process of applying for what's known as a U Visa, which can be awarded to undocumented immigrants who help police solve crimes, something Bautista has done.
Another perk of the visa is that it wipes away someone's immigration arrests and deportations. Bautista had been deported three times before applying.
"All these agencies are under Homeland Security, but unfortunately what one agency does other agencies aren't very aware of it," said Narciso Cruz, Bautista's attorney.
Cruz said the lack of communication has lead to arrests that should not be happening.
Bautista started the application process about 20 months ago, but U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services hasn't notified ICE about the paperwork, according to Cruz.
"Despite having documents they arrested me, they cuffed me and took me to another vehicle," said Bautista.
ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack denied allegations that there is poor communication between her department and immigration services.
Bautista could wait four years or more before his visa application is finalized. Once that happens he will be eligible for a green card and resident status.