ICE agents separated Xiu Qing You from his wife, Yu Mei Chen, who is a U.S. citizen.
"We followed the rules step by step to get status," Chen said.
You and Chen built their life together in New York, owning a nail salon in Connecticut and raising two beautiful young children.
However, the past has a way of creeping into the future. You was granted asylum after arriving in the United States illegally back in 2000. Two years later, he was issued an order of deportation -- one that was never executed in the last 16 years until last month when he went for his green card interview with his wife.
"In the middle of the interview they asked me to leave the room," Chen said.
That is when ICE agents made their move, taking You, who has no criminal history, into custody.
You, 39, was being held Saturday in a New Jersey facility run by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Also being held there is an Ecuadorian pizza shop employee arrested two weeks ago while making a delivery to an Army garrison in Brooklyn.
With the Trump Administration, there is a different cloud over immigration. Just this week, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions took aim at the asylum-seeking process, stating it is being abused and labeling a majority of the asylum cases invalid.
The family attorney said You faces persecution back in China, and now they are fighting to get him home, close to his children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.