Military police at a Brooklyn Army base seized an undocumented Ecuadorian delivery man and turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement — but not before taking the pizza he had brought them.
Pablo Villavicencio, a father of two who has lived in the United States for 10 years, was detained Friday after military police at the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, alerted ICE agents that he was undocumented, said his wife, Sandra Chica, who spoke at a press conference Wednesday broadcast via Facebook Live.
Chica, who is an American citizen, according to El Diario, said she is worried her husband will be deported and doesn’t know where to turn.
“He was supporting the family, now I’m gonna be by myself,” she said, as the couple’s two young daughters stood at her feet clutching baby dolls.
Villavicencio had delivered food to the base numerous times without incident, but on Friday, a guard he didn’t recognize asked him for documentation, Chica told El Diario, which first reported the arrest.
After being directed to obtain a daily pass, Villavicencio showed an ID NYC card, identification that is available to any New York City resident regardless of immigration status. Authorities on the base then asked him to submit to a background check, a spokeswoman for the base told Buzzfeed News. When his name was entered, an ICE warrant showed up, the spokeswoman told the Buzzfeed.
Even though he is married to an American citizen, Villavicencio was ordered to leave the country in 2010. He stayed anyway, according to according to Rachael Yong-Yow, a spokeswoman for ICE's regional office.
He is currently in ICE detention in New Jersey.
“It’s cruel that they want to separate my daughters from him,” Chica said Wednesday.
Chica said that she and her husband had submitted documents to authorities in February seeking to gain legal permanent residency, but the immigration warrant remained on the books, the Spanish-language newspaper El Diario reported.
Under guidelines introduced by President Donald Trump, undocumented immigrants like Villavicencio are now a priority for deportation, while the Obama administration largely focused on deporting those with serious criminal records.
Villavicencio’s arrest drew an outcry from local political leaders, including Justin Brannan, the city councilman who represents the area.
“We are told these soldiers gladly took the pizza from Pablo before detaining him and turning him over to ICE,” Brannan said at the press conference Wednesday. “Why was Pablo singled out?”
[Photo: Facebook / Pablo Villavicencio]