Corinne Ramey, Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2018
A Manhattan federal judge Tuesday ordered that an illegal Ecuadorean immigrant who had been arrested while delivering pizza to a Brooklyn army base be immediately released from detention.
In his ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty said the immigrant, Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, had stayed in the U.S. unlawfully, but otherwise been a model citizen. “He has no criminal history. He has paid his taxes,” the judge wrote. “And he has worked diligently to provide for his family.”
Mr. Villavicencio, 35 years old, was detained last month while delivering a catering order to Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn. His arrest and subsequent detention generated widespread publicity and outcry from numerous activists and elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, all Democrats.
During a hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Crotty questioned how Mr. Villavicencio’s detention served immigration policy.
Mr. Villavicencio, who came to the U.S. in 2008 and lives in Hempstead, N.Y., is married to a U.S. citizen and has two citizen daughters. One girl has a congenital heart defect and is being treated in New York, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, Mr. Villavicencio, who was held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J., didn’t appear in court.
“What’s the harm to the country and its immigration policy in letting him finish a process that’s fairly accessible to him?” he asked. “If he’s deported, he would be deprived of this.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Cordaro said Mr. Villavicencio could continue the immigration process in Ecuador.