A federal court temporarily blocked a pizza delivery man’s deportation one week after he was turned over to immigration officials while trying to drop off food at a military base in New York.
Pablo Villavicencio, 35, remains in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody but will be kept from deportation until July 20. Villavicencio, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, was detained June 1 at the Fort Hamilton base in Brooklyn while delivering an order from the brick-oven pizza restaurant in Queens where he worked.
The Legal Aid Society, an organization that provides legal help to those in poverty, said in a statement Saturday that their attorneys discovered Villavicencio’s deportation was imminent so they worked through the night to prepare the emergency stay request.
“This stay will allow him to pursue a meritorious form of relief from removal — adjustment of status for permanent residency — to remain with his family,” the legal provider’s statement said.
Gregory Copeland, supervising attorney of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said the stay is a victory for Villavicencio, his family and for “due process and the fair administration of justice.”
“This decision is also a reminder that the judiciary can still serve as a powerful check when other branches of government make hasty, cruel and reckless decisions,” he said.
He had been to the base ‘many times,’ attorney says
Villavicencio’s potential deportation triggered a national response and fear in immigrant communities.
Villavicencio filed for his green card in February and was waiting for a response when he was detained, his wife, Sandra Chica, said.
Chica is a US citizen and they have two young daughters who were born in the United States.
“He’s got the wheels in motion in terms of pursuing a legal path to normalizing his status in the country,” Copeland told CNN.
The day he was detained, Villavicencio was trying to deliver an order to the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn. He showed his New York City identification card to the guard as he had done several times before, but the base said in a statement that he didn’t have the proper identification, so he had to get a daily visitor pass.
By Emily Koss for WQAD NEWS
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