In Brooklyn, New York, immigrant rights groups and elected leaders are calling for the release of a delivery worker who was arrested by ICE last week after dropping off a pizza at the Fort Hamilton Army base. Pablo Villavicencio, an Ecuadorean immigrant, presented his New York City-issued ID card to soldiers at the entrance to the base, as he’s done on many previous delivery runs. But this time he was denied access and told he needed a driver’s license to enter the base. After a military police officer ran a background check, he discovered an ICE warrant from 2010 and called in immigration agents. Villavicencio is now being held at an ICE detention center in New Jersey and is scheduled to be deported. On Wednesday, New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan spoke to reporters outside the gates to the Army base, accompanied by Villavicencio’s wife, Sandra Chica, and the couple’s two young daughters.
Councilmember Justin Brannan: “Does the Army now have some new policy that demands all nonmilitary personnel show proof of citizenship to gain access onto the Army base? Otherwise, what happened here? Is this part of some new Donald Trump deportation strategy? … You’re tearing families apart. For what? How are we any safer today than we were yesterday?”
Sandra Chica: “It’s cruel that they have to, that they’re going to separate my daughters from him. He is supporting the family. Now I’m going to be by myself, alone with two kids.”
On Thursday, scores of protesters gathered outside immigration court in Lower Manhattan chanting “Free Pablo now!” Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said his office will pay Villavicencio’s legal fees.