College Point pizza delivery man spared immediate deportation following court ruling

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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 or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Ana C Maus from University City says:
As a Hispanic by birth also, I am for the rule of law and coming jehañy, like the rest of us have done. Now having ignored and order of deportation, discualify him for legal status or green card, so all legal aid is doing,is making his deportation later or giving him a little more time in the US.
I really can’t see, how removing him, will be a harsh punishment, as when enter here illegally, he knew deportation was on the table and he about it to long, but always the time will come and there is no separation of family, as he is free to take all the family with him, that is after all, the right thing to do and the responsible think to do.
June 16, 12:22 am
horrible from queens says:
This guy was given a deportation order in 2010 which he decided to ignore because apparently since he is not American, our laws do not apply to him. The woman who married him knew he was here illegally and therefore should be charged with aiding and abetting, as well as tax fraud if she signed a joint return with him and he used a stolen ID. The pizza man should be driven to the airport and sent home immediately. Any other decision is just a travesty of justice. Yes, idiot, the laws also apply to you.
June 18, 12:39 pm
Joey from Whitestone says:
Why would he be delivering. Pizza. From collage point to Brooklyn. Makes no sense. Brooklyn has the best pizza. Some thing fishy hear. I’ll check his car. That’s probably Parked. Close by. Something in there I Bet
June 18, 8:38 pm
Rosa Hernandez from Whitestone NY says:
When our family came to the United States, we did it legally out of respect for our family and the country we were going to call our home; this man knew from 2010 that eventually his time would come; but he still did nothing until February to obtain a green card; as for Nona's, the owner knew he was hiring someone illegal, but did it anyway; probably because he just wanted to selfishly come out ahead; and, crazy as it is, it states that the driver/delivery person, didn't even have a license to legally drive; so what happens if he kills someone while delivering pizza?? Oh right, no-fault kicks in; the restaurant needs to be held accountable also; nothing has changed; first it was Cascarino's, then Mama Luciano, Now Nona's. Same thing in each place. From the beginning of time, immigrants have traveled far and wide, but during the early 1900's, through Ellis Island, the rules were strict and people were honored to come to America, Legally; this will set a precedence; and not a good one. When the thought is to go anywhere illegal, knowingly, then legally the laws needs to be enforced;
June 20, 1:57 pm

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