Gov. Cuomo offers free legal aid to pizza deliveryman facing deportation

Sergio Conner
June 11, 2018

In this undated family photo provided by Sandra Chica, Pablo Villavicencio poses with his two daughters, Luciana, left, and Antonia.

Chica, who was born in Colombia and moved to the US a decade ago, said she is a USA citizen.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan issued an emergency stay of the deportation, ordering immigration officials not to transfer Pablo Villavicencio out of the New York City area while he remains in their custody. But Villavicencio disputes this: in an interview from the jail in New Jersey where he is now detained, he told Telemundo, "At no time did I sign a document".

Also on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in Villavicencio's defense, demanding an investigation into the practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The check on Villavicencio showed there was an active ICE warrant on file, at which point he was detained by military police, said Fort Hamilton spokeswoman Catherine SantoPietro.

"ICE may feel confident in its legal position, but our client's confidence in the judiciary, as well as the will of the American people, is stronger", said Jennifer Williams, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which is representing Villavicencio. "I did not commit a crime", Villavicencio said in Spanish to PIX11 News earlier this week.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called the incident "shameful", and said the Trump administration's immigration policies are "inhumane, plain and simple" and do "not make our country safer".

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The two young daughters of the pizza guy grabbed up by immigration officers when he made a delivery to a Brooklyn military base still don't know why their daddy hasn't come home.

"They treated me like a criminal". While the governor has promised free legal representation to Villavicencio, representatives from both the Legal Aid Society and Make The Road NY say that support has not yet materialized.

Bay Ridge Councilman Justin Brannan and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams demanded Villavicencio's release during a press conferenced held with Chica on Wednesday.

When he arrived at Fort Hamilton, guards requested identification and he produced a city identification card. The voluntary departure order then "became a final order of removal", she said. "I call on your office to immediately investigate ICE tactics and ensure the rights of New Yorkers are being protected".

But if he was deported he would have to take the much more hard route of applying from his birth country.

Villavicencio could therefore get a green card, which he has already applied for, but the legal process may be long and arduous.

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