Attorneys and advocates working on behalf of the wife of Pablo Villavicencio, who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after he delivered a pizza to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn last week, submitted a motion to stay Friday in an attempt to keep him from being deported.
Villavicencio is an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador who had applied for a green card, according to immigration advocates who submitted the motion prepared by the Legal Aid Society. Wife Sandra Chica and the couple’s two daughters are U.S. citizens.
“I can only imagine what Ms. Chica is experiencing at the moment,” said Jennifer Williams, a Legal Aid attorney. “Not to have your husband come home one day, the sole provider… It’s heart-wrenching.”
Advocates from Make the Road New York, the Legal Aid Society and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca held a press conference outside the Jacob Javits Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza after filing the motion to contest deportation.
“We demand that ICE grant Pablo stay and release him back to his family immediately,” said Walter Barrientos, lead organizer of Make the Road.
Williams said the Legal Aid Society will supplement their motion to stay with additional evidence on Monday and may pursue a separate motion to reopen Villavicencio’s case with immigration authorities.
ICE had a warrant for Villavicencio, which was discovered when he was asked for identification at the military base, a spokeswoman for Fort Hamilton said Wednesday. Villavicencio had showed his IDNYC card, which is not contingent on immigration status.
An ICE spokesman said Villavicencio has been considered an “ICE fugitive” for years.
“In March 2010, he was granted voluntary departure by an immigration judge, but failed to depart by July 2010 as ordered. As such, his voluntary departure order became a final order of removal and is an ICE fugitive,” the spokesman said in an email. “He remains in ICE custody pending removal.”
Chica, who Barrientos said “wasn’t feeling well” and “needed to be with her children” on Friday, released a statement calling on the government to “do the right thing.
“We ask ICE to release him back to us and back to his community,” read the statement delivered by Yatziri Tovar of Make the Road. “He works hard at his job, he pays taxes and he provides for us… Our family calls on the government to do the right thing, to stop dividing families and tearing apart communities.”
Councilman Carlos Menchaca said the detention was emblematic of a broken system.
“What happened at the base in Brooklyn really shows the rogue nature of the deportation machine and its agents,” he said, while urging other elected officials to “stand with Pablo.”
With Lauren Cook and Alison Fox