Judge orders release of pizza deliveryman detained by ICEPosted: Updated:
A federal judge ordered the immediate release of a pizza deliveryman who immigration agents detained after he tried to deliver pizza to a Brooklyn army base.
Pablo Villavicencio spent more than 50 days in a detention center in New Jersey following his arrest at the Fort Hamilton army base on June 1.
Immigration officials say the native of Ecuador agreed to leave the country voluntarily back in 2010 but failed to do so.
At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Crotty peppered the government attorney with questions about why Villavicencio was being detained in the first place.
"Is he a threat to the community?" the judge asked. "What is the danger to the community for a man who has committed no crimes?"
Earlier in the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used similar language when he repeated his call on the federal government to release the father of two.
Villavicencio's wife and daughters — all American citizens — were in the courtroom but didn't speak with reporters after the hearing.
"Words cannot describe how heavy this has been for everybody," Sandra Chica, Villavicencio's wife, said at a rally for her husband's release Monday outside City Hall.
After Judge Crotty ordered Villavicencio freed, immigration advocates blasted Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Trump administration for what they describe as unjust practices.
"Under this administration, ICE has basically gone rogue — detaining families and separating them," said Yatziri Tovar, of Make the Road New York. "That's why Pablo deserves to be home. He was not committing any crimes when he was detained."
When Villavicencio was finally released in New Jersey he hugged his wife and little girls.