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Judge: Release Immigrant Held After Army Base Pizza Delivery

Pablo Villavicencio is fighting for the right to gain legal status in US
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2018 7:16 PM CDT
FILE - In this June 18, 2018, file photo, Sandra Chica, center, wife of Pablo Villavicencio, walks with their two daughters as she arrives for a news conference outside federal immigration offices, in...   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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(Newser) – A judge on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of an Ecuadorean immigrant who was held for deportation after he delivered pizza to a Brooklyn Army installation, the AP reports. "Although he stayed in the United States unlawfully and is currently subject to a final order of removal, he has otherwise been a model citizen," US District Judge Paul Crotty wrote of Pablo Villavicencio. The Manhattan judge said Villavicencio, who was being held at a New Jersey lockup, can remain in the United States while he exhausts his right to try to gain legal status. Villavicencio applied to stay in the US after he married a US citizen, with whom he has two daughters, ages 2 and 4. The judge cited those children and said they are US citizens. "He has no criminal history," the judge wrote. "He has paid his taxes. And he has worked diligently to provide for his family."

The US government, which had wanted the case moved from New York to New Jersey, did not immediately comment on the judge's action. Attorney Gregory Copeland, representing Villavicencio, said his lawyers expected him to be released Tuesday night. Villavicencio's wife said she was home in Hempstead waiting for a car to take her to the detention center, where she would meet with him and lawyers. The judge ruled after hearing arguments earlier Tuesday, when he put a government lawyer on the spot over the effort by immigration authorities to enforce a 2010 deportation order. He questioned the need to detain and quickly deport Villavicencio, who's 35 years old. He was arrested on June 1 while making a delivery to the garrison in Fort Hamilton. When he arrived at Fort Hamilton, guards requested identification, and he produced a city identification card. A background check showed he had been ordered to leave the United States in 2010 but stayed.

(Read more immigration stories.)

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