School Closings, Early Dismissals

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

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is offering free legal aid to the deliveryman who was detained while delivering pizza at a Brooklyn army base this week.

Pablo Villavicencio was taken into custody on June 1, 2018, at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn and now faces deportation. He came to the U.S. illegally from Ecuador in 2008. (GoFundMe)

Cuomo said he spoke with Pablo Villavicencio’s wife, Sandra Chica, and has assured her Villavicencio will have legal counsel.

“I just spoke with Sandra Chica & expressed my deep frustration with the federal government's assault on NY’s immigrant families. Sandra spoke to me as a mother—worried for her husband and her children. As a father of three, I can't imagine the fear she and Pablo are feeling now,” he tweeted.

"I had one message for her: Anything we can do to help, we will do. I confirmed with her that New York State, working with our partners, has secured pro-bono legal counsel to represent Mr. Villavicencio.”

Villavicencio's legal counsel filed an emergency stay in motion.

"We urge ICE to grant the stay on humanitarian grounds as he pursues other avenues through his U.S. citizen spouse," said Jennifer Williams, deputy attorney in charge of the immigration law unit at Legal Aid Society.

Villavicencio was detained by ICE officials on June 1 when he tried delivering pizza to the Fort Hamilton Army Base, an area he has delivered pizza to multiple times.

He said he showed his New York State identification card at the security gate and was allowed inside.

But when he reached the delivery address, he said, he was confronted by another officer and was asked to show another form of identification, which he did not have.

"They treated me like a criminal. I did not commit a crime,” Villavicencio said in Spanish to PIX11 News earlier this week.

His family said he could be deported as early as Monday.

"We ask ICE to release him and come back to us," his wife said. "He is the center of our family and our main support."

The couple married five years ago and this year Villavicencio applied for his green card.

Local leaders have expressed their confusion and anger over Villavicencio’s detainment, calling it “disgusting.”

"Tell me how this is American. Tell me how taking Pablo off the street makes our nation safer. I'm listening,” Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) said.

A march to protest the pending deportation in Bay Ridge Wednesday night led to seven arrests. On Friday, a more peaceful demonstration was held.

A GoFundMe has raised nearly $30,000 as of Friday evening to help the family since their breadwinner was detained.