The undocumented immigrant who was detained while trying to deliver a food order to a New York City military base has received temporary relief from deportation, giving him and his allies a little over a month to try and free him from federal detainment.
The pizza delivery man, 35-year-old Pablo Villavicencio, was arrested a week and a half ago after a worker at a Brooklyn military base asked him for proof that he was in the US legally, and then called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when he could not provide that documentation. He had previously delivered food to the base with no problems.
Mr Villavicencio’s case has become the latest flashpoint in America’s immigration debate, where President Donald Trump has encouraged federal agents to aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants living in the US illegally, leading to an increase in community and workplace raids that critics say has led to indiscriminate arrests of immigrants who pose little to any threat to their communities and who have lived in the US for decades.
The case of Mr Villavicencio, who is originally from Ecuador, has led to leaders in New York expressing outrage that the immigrant father and husband was singled out by the officials at the military base.
Gregory Copeland, a supervising attorney with the Legal Aid Society, told The Independent that there's little reason he can see for Mr Villavicencio to stay in federal custody.
"This isn’t a criminal context, so to detain someone for a civil charge, you need a reason," Mr Copeland said.
"Is our city, state and nation any safer today because they took a pizza delivery guy off the streets?” New York City Council member Justin Brannan asked during a press conference following the last week.
Sandra Chica, Mr Villancencio’s wife, took to the internet to plead for her husband’s release, and said that having her husband removed from their family would introduce significant hardships for her and her two children.
“He’s the centre of our family. He’s the main support,” Ms Chica, said in a Twitter video. “We’re really going to suffer if he’s deported.”
Mr Villancencio entered the United States illegally in 2008, according to The New York Times, and was told by federal authorities to leave the country in 2010. He chose not to, and instead married Ms Chica and had two children while settling into a routine working for the Queens-based pizzeria for which he was delivering food when he was arrested.
ICE has previously confirmed that Mr Villancencio had not been charged with any crimes prior to his arrest at the New York military base.
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