Rally in support of ICE detained pizza deliveryman.

Juliet Papa/1010 WINS

Judge orders release of immigrant detained while delivering pizza to base

July 24, 2018 - 7:45 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- A federal judge ordered late Tuesday the immediate release of an Ecuadorean immigrant detained while delivering pizza to the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn.

Immigration advocates had been rallying for his release.

A federal court judge heard Pablo Villavicencio's case on Tuesday.

Judge Paul Crotty issued the order late Tuesday saying Villavicencio must be immediately released. Villavicencio is being held at a New Jersey lockup.

The judge says the release is necessary because his imminent removal from the United States is no longer reasonably foreseeable.

The judge says Villavicencio can remain in the United States while he exhausts his right to complete an effort to gain legal status. Villavicencio applied to stay in the U.S. after he married a U.S. citizen. They have two young girls.

Crotty ruled after hearing arguments earlier Tuesday.

 Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Cordaro argued for the case to be transferred to New Jersey.

Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian immigrant, has been detained since June 1. He was supposed to leave the country on June 9, but the Legal Aid Society got him an emergency stay which ended on July 20. On Tuesday, lawyers argued for more time and a release.

On Tuesday, the judge questioned why Villavicencio was being detained if he has committed no crime, and doesn't pose a threat to the country.

"I think that the judge posed some pretty difficult questions that the government was unable to answer, and we remain hopeful that Pablo will back with his family very shortly," Gregory Copeland said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also called for his release.

"For 53 days, the federal government has cruelly kept Pablo Villavicencio from his wife and two daughters for no legitimate reason. ICE's arrest of Mr. Villavicencio, which raised serious concerns of ethnic profiling, was a disgraceful affront to our New York values, and it is unconscionable that the federal government has continued to keep him locked up." Cuomo said in a statement."With his court hearing today, I am again calling on the federal government to do the right thing and let Mr. Villavicencio return to his family in New York. Mr. Villavicencio is a father and loving husband, and his detention serves absolutely no public safety purpose. In New York, we stand with our immigrant community and believe our diversity is our greatest strength, and we will always fight to protect the rights of all New Yorkers."

Advocates including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Villavicencio's wife Sandra Chica, rallied at City Hall on Monday. Demonstrators were back at it for Tuesday's court date as well.

Chica said the time without her husband has been a nightmare.

“Pablo’s absence has brought us significant hardship,” Chica said. “It’s not easy to become a single mom in one day.”

Chica wiped her eyes as it became clear that there was no decision made to send him home.

Villavicencio was detained when he consented to a background check at the Brooklyn base.

He has been held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at a Hudson County correctional facility.

Although Villavicencio was denied asylum and granted a voluntary order of departure, which he did not fulfull, his attorney notes he has married an American citizen and applied for a green card.