Judge Halts Deportation of Pizza Delivery Man—For Now

Erik Mcgregor/ZUMA

A federal judge in New York has temporarily halted the deportation of a pizza delivery driver who was detained earlier this month while out on a delivery. 

Lawyers for Pablo Villavicencio Calderon announced the emergency petition to stay on Saturday. The 35-year-old father of two will be detained at an Immigration and Custom enforcement facility in New Jersey until July 20, when a court hearing will be held. 

“Although we are disappointed that Pablo will remained 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 , supervising attorney for Legal Aid’s Immigration Law Unit, said. “This decision is also a reminder that the judiciary can still serve as a powerful check when other branches of government make hasty, cruel and reckless decisions.”

Villavicencio was arrested on June 1 while making a pizza delivery from a Queens restaurant to an army base in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. But when he showed up to drop off the order, a guard asked Villavicencio for identification. According to Villavicencio’s wife, the guard demanded Villavicencio present a driver’s license. Unable to show the guard anything but a city identification card, his wife says the guard then contacted ICE officials who detained him.

News of the arrest sparked swift outrage. Soon after, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he had secured pro-bono legal counsel for Villavicencio. He slammed the detainment as an “outrageous affront” to New York values.

“Mr. Villavicencio is a father and loving husband, and his detention doesn’t make us any safer,” Cuomo said in a statement. “In New York, we stand with our immigrant communities and we will never stop fighting to protect the rights of all New Yorkers.”