Pizza delivery man arrested and turned over to ICE while delivering pies to military base, officials say

'It is unimaginable that a person can go from a pizza to prison,” says Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Emily Shugerman
New York
Wednesday 06 June 2018 18:45
Pizza delivery man arrested and turned over to ICE while delivering pies to military base, officials say

A pizza delivery man is facing deportation after being arrested while making deliveries to a New York military base, local officials said.

Military officials stopped Pablo Villavicencio – an immigrant from Ecuador and father of two – after he delivered pizza to the Fort Hamilton Army base on Friday, according to New York City Councilman Justin Brannan.

When Mr Villavicencio failed to provide adequate identification, Mr Brannan said, the officers passed him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The 32-year-old remained in ICE custody on Monday, pending his removal from the country.

Eric Adams, the borough president for Brooklyn, said Mr Villavicencio's arrest set a "dangerous precedent".

“It is unimaginable that a person can go from a pizza to prison,” he said at a press conference.

An ICE spokesperson confirmed Mr Villavicencio had been detained, and was being held in custody pending his removal. The spokesperson said Mr Villavicencio had failed to comply with a 2010 voluntary departure order and was considered a fugitive.

Mr Villavicencio has lived in the US for 10 years, according to his wife, Sandra Chica. Ms Chica told reporters that she and the couple’s two children, ages 2 and 3, are both US citizens.

Mr Villavicencio supported the family with his job at the pizza restaurant, Ms Chica added. She didn’t know what they would do if he was deported.

Mr Brannan said Mr Villacencio had filed papers for a green card and was awaiting permanent resident status. He had a New York City identification card, Mr Brannan said, which he had used to gain entry to the military base before. It was unclear why he was stopped on Friday.

“Does the Army now have some new policy that demands all non-military personnel show proof of citizenship to gain access onto the army base?” Mr Brannan asked. “Otherwise what happened here? Is this part of some new Donald Trump deportation strategy?”

US Senator Jeff Merkley denied access to immigration detention centre where parents were separated from their children

The Trump administration has cracked down on undocumented immigrants, ordering ICE to target everyone in the country illegally – even those without a criminal record. ICE arrests surged by 40 per cent in the first year Mr Trump took office, and the number of workplace immigration raids has doubled in the last seven months.

But Mr Brannan questioned on Wednesday whether this new policy was making the US more secure.

“Is our city, state, and nation any safer today because they took a pizza delivery guy off the street?” he asked. “This is absolutely ridiculous. We’re tearing families apart, and for what?”

The military base did not respond to a request for comment.

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