The driver for a College Point pizzeria had his imminent deportation back to Ecuador halted by a federal judge Saturday.
Attorneys from the Legal Aid Society won an emergency stay of deportation of Pablo Villavicencio, 35, based on a habeas corpus petition filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Villavicencio, a married father of two American daughters, was detained June 1 while delivering Italian food from Nonna Delia’s to the Fort Hamilton army base in Brooklyn when he could not present proper identification. Base security called Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after a routine background check showed the undocumented immigrant had been ordered by a judge to leave the country in 2010 but stayed.
The Legal Aid Society discovered late Friday that Villavicencio’s deportation would take place within days, so the attorneys worked through the night and Judge Alison J. Nathan granted the stay until July 20 ordering the government to show why a temporary injunction should not be granted in his case. Villavicencio will remain in ICE custody, but this stay will allow him to pursue a meritorious form of relief from removal — adjustment of status for permanent residency — to remain with his family.
“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,” Gregory Copeland, the supervising attorney of Immigration Law Unity at The Legal Aid Society said. “The courts agreed with our argument that Pablo should be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present his case in federal court. This decision is also a reminder that the judiciary can still serve as a powerful check when other branches of the government make hasty, cruel and reckless decisions.”
Copeland said The Legal Aid Society will continue to represent Villavicencio and we work with him toward securing valid status.
Villavicencio had applied for a green card in February.
Watching the case unfold during the last two weeks was City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), the first Ecuadorian-American elected to public office in the United States.
“As the son of Ecuadorian immigrants myself, Pablo’s story resonates with me personally. My family came here looking for the equality of opportunity for which this nation is renowned,” Moya said. “Like Pablo did, my family put down roots here, started a family and worked hard to provide for that family. Pablo’s fortitude is everything America claims to value. Here is a man who risked his own well-being so that when he clocked out after a long shift, he could return to his daughters — the youngest suffering from a congenital heart disease defect — safe in the knowledge that he was doing everything he could to provide for them.”
Moya added, “This is a man who should be permitted to return to his family and complete his immigration application. I would be honored to call this man my neighbor and I am saddened I cannot yet call him my fellow American.”
The owners of Nonna Delia’s in College Point could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr