A pizza deliveryman in the country illegally, who was making a delivery at a military base in New York City, was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week.
The man, Pablo Villavicencio, was arrested on Friday while delivering the pizza to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn after he was asked for identification at the gate, El Diario reported.
His wife, Sandra Chica, told the newspaper that her husband was doing a routine delivery at the Fort location when a guard asked for a valid identification document.
“Since he didn’t have one, the soldier called immigration to arrest him,” she told El Diario.
Chica, an American citizen originally from Colombia, told the newspaper that she met her husband about five years ago. They got married and have two young girls together.
In February, Villavicencio, who is from Ecuador, began the process to get residency status.
“There aren’t words that can describe the drama that my daughters and I are living,” Chica said. “From one moment to the next, life changed for us, and all I ask is for them to not deport my husband, to give him an opportunity.”
Villavicencio faces possible deportation to Ecuador.
A spokesperson for Fort Hamilton told BuzzFeed that Villavicencio arrived at 11 a.m. on Friday to make the delivery “without valid Department of Defense identification.”
He was directed to a center to get a daily pass. There he signed a waiver permitting a background check, and an active ICE warrant was discovered on file.
“Commanders are authorized to take reasonably necessary and lawful measures to maintain law and order and protect installation personnel and property,” the statement concluded.
New York City Council Member Justin Brannan said Villavicencio had made prior deliveries to Fort Hamilton and had used his municipal NYC ID, which had always been accepted. He called the sequence of events troubling and demanded more information from ICE and the Army.
“Does the Army now have a new policy that demands all non-military personnel show proof of citizenship to gain access onto an Army base?” he asked in a statement obtained by Fox News. “Is this part of Donald Trump’s deportation strategy? Why was Pablo Villavicencio singled out? Why was this time different than any times in the past when Pablo entered the base? Is our city, state and nation any safer today because we took Pablo the pizza deliveryman off the street?”
A spokesman for ICE in New York told Fox News on Wednesday that Villavicencio was granted voluntary departure status by an immigration judge in March 2010, but failed to depart by July 2010 as ordered.
“As such, his voluntary departure order became a final order of removal" and he is "an ICE fugitive."
"On June 1, Villavicencio-Calderon was detained by military police officers and turned over to ICE. He remains in ICE custody pending removal,” ICE spokesperson Rachel Yong Yow said in a statement.
Yong Yow told BuzzFeed that Villavicencio’s application for residency does not protect him from deportation.
"That doesn’t affect whether or not he is removable. That case will remain pending even after removal and if it’s approved while he’s out of the country he will be told as such and be able to come back," she said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said a press conference on Wednesday that the “unimaginable” had happened to Villavicencio.
“The arrest of Pablo with a permissible ID is sending shock waves throughout the immigrant community," Adams said, according to ABC7 NY. "They were told with this ID, you will have some form of living in this city without the harassment."
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family.