HOUSTON (FOX 26) - These days the words "until death do us part" matter a great deal less to the nation's immigration enforcement agency.
ICE confirms it has arrested an undocumented Houston man who Fox 26 has learned is legally married to an American citizen.
While that immigrant is not her client, Attorney Manna Yegani is speaking out in protest.
"What we see is an extreme crackdown on the immigrant community and that instills fear," said Yegani.
The arrest occurred at the federal facility on Gears Road where the undocumented man appeared with his spouse to apply for legal status. The 48-year-old Salvadoran national was taken into custody when records revealed he was subject to a deportation order after failing to appear in court back in 2006. It's the type of enforcement lawyers say ICE rarely took during the Obama administration, which sought to keep families together. Immigration attorneys see recent actions against applicants married to American citizens as clear evidence of calculated repression.
"ICE is there and their clients being cuffed and at that point the attorney is helpless because we don't have the authority to stop that. Instead of coming forward to legalize themselves people are going into hiding," said Yegani.
A spokesman for ICE tells Fox 26 the agency has long had the authority to detain the undocumented family members of citizens and has now chosen to exercise the option of arrest when warranted.
Immigrant activist Cesar Espinosa of Fiel says this case is a chilling example of the Trump administrations' willingness to break up families.
"We hope that ICE knows that if people are trying to do things the correct way, they should not be punished for that and we hope to see some changes so that these practices don't escalate," said Espinosa.
"This is the break up of families. This is the break-up of family unity," added Yegani who says once deported, these immigrants, with American families, must wait a decade to return to the U.S. legally.