Governor Andrew Cuomo and City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst) applauded the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision today to end its effort to deport Pablo Villavicencio, the pizza deliveryman detained by ICE while dropping off a catering order at the Fort Hamilton army base in Brooklyn this summer.
The abrupt reversal comes just three days after the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office moved to appeal a court ruling that permitted Villavicencio to remain with his wife and two daughters while he continued his application for permanent residency, according to Gothamist.
“By dropping its appeal of a court order freeing Pablo Villavicencio, the federal government is admitting what we already knew—there was absolutely no legitimate reason to lock Mr. Villavicencio up and take him away from his family. ICE’s arrest of Mr. Villavicencio while he was doing his job was an outrageous affront to our New York values and raised serious concerns of ethnic profiling,” said Cuomo.
Pablo Villavicencio was arrested in June after failing to show proper paperwork to a guard at Fort Hamilton Military Base in Bay Ridge. Villavicencio was delivering a pizza to the base from a pizzeria in Queens when he was questioned by a military soldier on the base, who asked for his immigration documents. The incident led the soldier to call immigration enforcement agents on the father of two, who was then handed over to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The Ecuadorian immigrant was a ten-year resident of the United States with no criminal record at the time of his detainment.
The DOJ’s announcement comes just months after Federal District Judge Paul Crotty freed the married father of two, issuing an order calling for the immediate release of Villavicencio from detainment at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey, where he was held for nearly two months.
“In New York, we stand with our immigrant community in the face of the federal government’s un-American assault on immigrants, and we will always fight to protect the rights of all New Yorkers and uphold the values embodied by the Statue of Liberty in our harbor,” added Cuomo.
Brannan echoed the Governor’s sentiment, hailing the decision as a win against President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policies.
“Pablo Villavicencio’s wife and two daughters are American citizens and tearing their family part will not make our country any safer. I am relieved that Donald Trump’s U.S. Attorney agrees that what happened to Pablo and his family was downright un-American. Here in Brooklyn, we celebrate our diversity because it makes you strong and we welcome people with open arms no matter where you come from or how long you’ve been here,” said Brannan.