The Hempstead pizza delivery man detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week was granted a stay of deportation on June 9, after activists’ mobilizations and national media attention shined a light on the plight of the man, Pablo Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian native and father of two.
On June 1, Villavicencio attempted to deliver pizza to an Army base in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. Upon arriving, he presented a New York City municipal identification card, which was not adequate for the base’s military police. If visitors do not have military identification, an Army spokesperson told the New York Times, they must undergo a background check. After running the check, Army personnel discovered that Villavicencio was undocumented with a deportation order against him and detained him until they turned him over into ICE custody.
Villavicencio lives in Nassau County with his wife, Sandra Chica, and two daughters. Chica, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Colombia, told the Times that Villavicencio applied for a green card as the spouse of a citizen in February.
The Legal Aid Society filed a petition last week to have Villavicencio released on humanitarian grounds. Chica argued that her husband needs to be home as the main provider of the family, whose 2-year-old daughter has a congenital heart defect, the Times reported.
“It’s absolutely disgusting when the strongest military in the world punches down by going after pizza delivery men,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “Immigrant New Yorkers like Pablo Villavicencio provide for their families by working hard and making sacrifices, they shouldn’t be ripped from their communities and their crying children for pursuing the ever dimmer American dream.”
Villavicencio received the stay until July 20, Legal Aid Society lawyers announced Saturday afternoon, Newsday reported. However, he will remain detained with ICE at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, New Jersey.
“It should be frightening to all of us to think that this administration continues to push for every arm, every agency and every element of the government to turn against immigrant families,” Walter Barrientos, Long Island Organizing Director for Make the Road New York, told News 12.