Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the chorus of New York officials calling for the release of an Ecuadorian native detained while delivering pizza at a Brooklyn Army base after his impending deportation was halted, at least for now, by a federal judge.
"There’s compelling evidence that Pablo Villavicencio was improperly detained," Cuomo said late Saturday. "He should be immediately released from ICE custody and an investigation should be launched into the circumstances of his arrest."
Villavicencio, 35, was taken into custody June 1 at Army Garrison Fort Hamilton after military police officers conducting a routine check discovered a deportation order from 2010. He was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is being held at an ICE facility in New Jersey.
New York's Legal Aid Society said it sought an emergency stay after learning Villavicencio's deportation was imminent. Federal Judge Alison Nathan issued an emergency deportation stay pending a hearing July 20.
Villavicencio's wife, Sandra Chica, and his two children are American citizens.
"I'm grateful to hear that #PabloVillavicencio has won an emergency petition that keeps him in our country," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams tweeted. "He belongs at home, with his wife and children."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the case was an example of the Trump administration's "inhumane" immigration enforcement policy.
"It is completely shameful for ICE to separate a father from his wife and kids like this," she said.
Villavicencio's lawyers argue that he is the family's primary provider, that he was in the process of applying for permanent legal resident status when he was detained, and that he was a victim of racial profiling.
“Although we are disappointed that Pablo will remain detained, today’s stay is a victory for him and his family, and also for due process and the fair administration of justice,” Legal Aid Society lawyer Gregory Copeland said.