A pizza delivery man who is married to an American citizen was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers after attempting to deliver a pizza to a military post in Brooklyn, New York, according to reports and city officials.
Pablo Villavicencio, originally from Ecuador, was arrested on Friday while delivering an order at Fort Hamilton garrison in south Brooklyn. After being let onto the base around noon using his NYC municipal ID, a soldier reportedly asked Villavicencio, 35, for proof of citizenship, and detained him when he didn’t provide it.
Spanish-language publication El Diario reports that the soldier then called ICE, which transported Villavicencio to an immigration center in Manhattan. He was transferred to a base in New Jersey over the weekend, where he is in ICE custody pending removal.
Villavicencio spoke to the New York Post from detention, saying he was delivering food to the military base “and they detained me.”
“I have been there before and always go in and never have had any problems, they actually know me and the sergeant knows me for some time doing delivery,” he said.
“Last Friday there was a different security guard and he told me I needed to go get another pass to enter,” he said. “And I proceeded to do that. A tall man with dark skin started to ask me many questions, he asked me about why I didn’t have any Social Security card.”
According to Sandra Chica, Villavicencio’s wife, he applied for a Green Card in February, and it is currently pending. Chica and their two children are U.S. citizens, and Villavicencio has been in the country for 10 years.
“A lawyer told me that there is nothing he can do, that he is going to be deported,” Chica said at the press conference.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams says “the arrest of Pablo with a municipal ID is sending shockwaves throughout the immigrant community” because immigrants were told they would not be harassed in New York, a sanctuary city, he says. “Delivery to detention is unimaginable.” pic.twitter.com/cttPLZscBn
— Cora Lewis (@cora) June 6, 2018
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for Villavicencio’s release.
“It was all right for them to take his pizza, but it was also alright for them to put him in prison,” said Adams. “Not in America. Not in New York, and not in Brooklyn.”
El Diaro reports that Chica doesn’t have any family members to help take care of her family.
“How is it possible that they want to separate the father of two babies… just because he didn’t have a document?” Chica asked at today’s rally. “The girls will not stop asking for their dad. We talked with him over the weekend. He was crying, and the girls noticed it, and we didn’t know what to tell them. They are the most affected. They are suffering so much.”