Update, Monday, June 11: The New York Times reports that despite public protests, Pablo Villavicencio remains in detention at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey. But what’s worse, he was almost straight-up deported over the weekend, until a federal judge stepped in to stop any deportation efforts at least until Villavicencio’s hearing on July 20.
Villavicencio’s lawyers from the Legal Aid Society Of New York filed a petition with the New York field office of ICE “to have him released on humanitarian reasons,” arguing “that since he was a primary provider for the family, he needed to be home. His youngest daughter, 2, has a congenital heart defect, according to the lawsuit.” Then the lawyers noted that Villavicencio’s commissary account was emptied—which is usually an indicator of imminent deportation. Fortunately, federal judge Alison J. Nathan, who was appointed by President Obama in 2011, stepped in to prevent Villavicencio from leaving the country. The next step, according to Gregory P. Copeland, supervising attorney for the immigration unit of the Legal Aid Society, is to get Villavicencio out of detention.
In a slight bit of justice, other restaurants are now refusing to send their delivery drivers to Fort Hamilton. As Takeout sister site The Root reports, “many restaurants and delivery services in the area began a boycott of the army garrison. This act not only serves as a form of protection for those who make deliveries there but as retribution against the jerk who took it upon himself to call the feds in the first place.” Cook and delivery employee Emanuel Kabrinny, told the New York Post: “Some people tell their bosses ‘I’m not going.’ I’m not going either. If they want food, let them come here [to pick it up].”
[Note: The Root, like The Takeout, is owned by Univision Communications.]
Thursday, June 7: In yet another depressing story that seems way too familiar lately, Ecuadoran immigrant Pablo Villavicencio was detained by ICE on Friday after delivering pasta to U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton. It’s the only army base in New York City, and Villavicencio had delivered food there many times from Nonna Delia’s pizzeria in Queens to the base on Brooklyn. No one is sure why Villavicencio was detained this time, but NPR reports that a routine background check revealed that he had an active ICE warrant.
Villavicencio tells The New York Post “by phone from immigration detention” that after flashing his flashing his city-issued IDNYC card as “he has done before,” a guard demanded more I.D., like his social security card. When Villavicencio didn’t have any more I.D., the guard prepared to call ICE. This despite the fact that the sergeant Villavicencio was delivering food to came to his defense: “The sergeant was telling the man… he had no business calling ICE, he just has to verify I had no problems and let [me] through.”
In a statement, the Fort Hamilton Public Affairs Office said “that the installation’s commanders are authorized to take ‘reasonably necessary and lawful measures [to] protect installation personnel and property.’”
Unsurprisingly, many are protesting the incident, like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who called it “‘unimaginable’ that Villavicencio went so quickly ‘from delivery to detention.’” Protesters have also gathered in New York to protest for Villavicencio’s release.
His wife, Sandra Chica, appeared at a news conference. She is an American citizen, and the couple’s two daughters were born here; Villavicencio had apparently applied for his green card in February. She said, “This is cruel that they’re going to separate my daughters from him. He was supporting the family. Now I’m going to be by myself, along with two kids.” As City Councilman Justin Brannan points out, “We’re tearing families apart. Are we any safer today because they took a pizza delivery guy off the street?” Villavicencio’s coworkers also chimed in, calling him “a really good guy,” and telling the Post, “He’s gone there before for deliveries and it’s never been an issue or problem. ”
As horrible as this story is, even this pales next to an incident in Ohio this week, when an ICE officer walked into a gardening store and offered employees free doughnuts. When the workers then came forward, ICE arrested more than 100 of them, as our sister site Splinter reports. What if these horrific officials actually turned their efforts toward something positive, like getting guns off of the street, instead of immigrants?
[Note: Splinter, like The Takeout, is owned by Univision Communications.]