Pablo Villavicencio, the Brooklyn pizza delivery man who was detained in June by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has been freed from detention, according to The Legal Aid Society.
Villavicencio, 35, was arrested on June 1 when he was delivering food to the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn. On Tuesday, a federal district court judge ordered the immediate release of Villavicencio.
“The rule of law, humanity and morality prevailed [on Tuesday] with the Court’s order releasing Pablo back to his family and community,” said Adriene Holder, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society, in a statement. “This decision should serve as a rebuke against the Trump Administration and its merciless crusade to tear families apart.”
Pablo speaks to the press out of the SUV window with his wife and daughters finally with him in the backseat. He was overcome with emotion.
Asked if he had a message to New Yorkers- he exclaimed: THANK YOU!!! pic.twitter.com/G0and2Y0QW
— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) July 25, 2018
Why was Villavicencio detained by ICE while delivering pizza?
Though Villavicencio had delivered food to the Brooklyn military base multiple times — always presenting his IDNYC, per his lawyers — this time military officers had asked Villavicencio for a driver’s license.
He did not have a license, so the officer ran a background check which revealed an open order of deportation from 2010. Villavicencio had applied for permanent residency, sponsored by his wife, a naturalized citizen, but had not received a date for the interview.
On Tuesday, Villavicencio’s lawyers received that date, Aug. 21, as well as the news of his release. Villavicencio was in ICE detention for 53 days; on June 11, a judge had ordered a temporary stay of deportation allowing him to remain in the United States until the court hearing. He came to the U.S. unlawfully in 2008 from Ecuador.
Sandra Chica (C), wife of Pablo Villavicencio, holds the hands of her children Luciana (L) and Antonia (R) during an advocacy rally and press conference in support of Pablo Villavicencio. Photo: Getty Images
Villavicencio’s wife and two children are U.S. citizens. In his order, Judge Paul A. Crotty wrote that, “Although he stayed in the United States unlawfully and is currently subject to a final order of removal, he has otherwise been a model citizen. … He has no criminal history. He has paid his taxes. And he has worked diligently to provide for his family.”
This decision, Holder said, proves that the courts can still serve as a check on the executive branch of government.
“The Villavicencio family has finally received a crucial measure of relief from their 53-day nightmare,” he said in a statement, “and we will continue to fight alongside them to protect their right to remain in the community they call home.”