Santo Hilario Garcia, 35, and Marcelina Garcia Profecto, 33, left their house on March 13 around 7 a.m., to do what most people do: go to work. The couple, parents to six children, were out looking for work when a vehicle pulled them over. It was the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officers. Various news reports say that the couple did comply and pull over, but when they realized it was ICE, the couple fled.
“As the officers departed the location of the attempted engagement, they came across the overturned vehicle and immediately dialed 911 for assistance. Local officials were on the scene moments later,” Lori Haley, an ICE spokeswoman, told CNN. The couple were immediately pronounced dead, CNN reports.
ICE says that Santo fit the description of the person they were targeting but later realized it wasn’t him. They went after the wrong person, but because both Santo and Marcelina were undocumented immigrants, the couple got scared and fled.
The couple lived in Central California and worked the fields as farm workers. United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez has been speaking out about this terrible tragedy.
The couple leaves behind their six children that were between the ages of 8 and 18.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released the following statement:
“In recent weeks, we have received numerous reports from Kern County and other parts of the Central Valley of ICE staking out the roads farmworkers travel to get to work and pulling them over during early morning hours without any lawful basis, resulting in numerous unlawful arrests of residents.
“Reports received by the ACLU indicate that ICE is often pulling farmworkers over in unmarked vehicles. As in this case, drivers and passengers stop, after being signaled to pull over, believing the officers to be police, but only come to learn after being approached, questioned, and arrested that the officers are actually ICE.
“This incident demonstrates just how dangerous ICE’s unlawful practices are to our communities. This horrible tragedy is the direct result of ICE’s inhumane tactics and the fear it provokes in hardworking people who stand to lose everything if they are deported.”