Pablo Villavicencio was working as a pizza delivery man and simply delivering an order to a military post in Brooklyn, New York. Now, Villavicencio, an undocumented immigrant, is facing potential deportation.
The story first gained traction in Spanish-language media in New York before spreading nationally, where it has gone viral, sparking outcry over the pizza deliveryman’s plight. Villavicencio was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, CBS News reported. He is married and has children ages 3 and 4.
In October 2018, The New York Times reported that the delivery man “has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in the assault of his wife.”
According to court documents, the 35-year-old man is accused of pushing “his wife against a wall and slapped her Thursday at their home on Long Island. He then took her cellphone to prevent her from calling the police,” reported The Times.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Villavicencio, Originally From Ecuador, Was Delivering a Pasta Order to a Sergeant
Villavicencio is from Ecuador, according to CBS News, which reported that his arrest came on Friday, June 1, 2018 “while delivering an order at Fort Hamilton garrison in south Brooklyn.”
The New York Post reports that the garrison is an Army outpost, and that soldiers there took the food and then called ICE, opening up the pizza deliveryman to possible deportation.
The pizza man told the Post that the order was to a sergeant for pasta. He showed his “city-issued IDNYC card for entry, as he has done before,” The Post reported but, inside the outpost, another guard “demanded more identification,” and, when he had none, ICE was called.
“There was a different security guard and he told me I needed to go get another pass to enter . . . A tall man with dark skin started to ask me many questions, he asked me about why I didn’t have any Social Security card,” Villavicencio told The Post.
“He called the NYPD and the NYPD told him I didn’t have any record, that I was clean. But the man said, ‘I don’t care.’ He said I need to keep waiting and he called ICE.”
2. Fort Hamilton Says Villavicencio Didn’t Have Proper Identification
A Fort Hamilton spokesperson gave the military’s side of the detention to CBS News, confirming that “an individual attempted to gain access to Fort Hamilton to make a delivery without valid Department of Defense identification.”
“The person was directed to the Visitor Control Center to obtain a daily pass. Upon signing a waiver permitting a background check, Department of the Army Access Control standard for all visitors, an active Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrant was discovered on file,” the spokesman told CBS.
“This prompted the Department of Emergency Services personnel to contact the proper authorities, and transport the individual to DES for further processing, and released to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
His wife, Sandra Chica, told El Diario, “There are no words that can define the drama that my daughters and I are living. From one moment to another, life changed for us and all I ask now is: Do not go to deport my husband, give him a chance.”
3. A GoFundMe Campaign Has Raised Thousands of Dollars for the Family
More than $11,000 has been raised to support the Villavicencio family on GoFundMe. “This campaign is to help Pablo Villavicencio and his family at this difficult time they are going through, a hardworking man who has always been responsible with his family, all united putting our grain of sand we can make this situation more bearable for him, his wife and Daughters, God bless them,” the page reads.
Although there were also some negative comments, others filled the page with comments in support. “This is a horrible situation. Good luck and I hope he’s home soon,” wrote one man. “I can’t imagine the pain and confusion you and your children are feeling. My thoughts are with you,” another supporter wrote.
Some people put negative comments on the thread, however. “It is very sad that your family is going through this, but he had a chance in 2010 to take care of his responsibilities, not only for himself but his family. When I came to America I had to do it the right way. I became a US citizen; it was not easy but I followed the rules. It is not the people at the base at fault, they are doing their job. If you break the law and get caught you only have yourself to blame. I know people are going to hate, but it is the truth. God Bless, I truly wish your family the best,” wrote one man.
4. City Officials Have Rallied at the Side of Villavicencio & His Family
New York City Councilman Justin Brannan and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a press conference in which they expressed disgust at the situation.
“Today @BPEricAdams and I stood with Sandra and her two daughters,” Brannan wrote on Twitter. “Her husband and their dad Pablo is facing deportation because he delivered a pizza to an army base. Tell me how this is American. Tell me how taking Pablo off the street makes our nation safer. I’m listening.”
Eric Adams wrote on Twitter, “Please support the family of Pablo Villavicencio as he sits in @ICEGov detention, The American dream was shattered when he went from delivery to detention. We want Pablo back with his family.” As El Diario explained, “This is the Fort Hamilton military installation, located on General Lee Avenue, between the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights neighborhoods in Brooklyn.”
“For God’s sake, how is it possible that in New York City, now the soldiers change their role to that of intermediaries of the immigration agents,” said Chica to El Diario. “The girls do not stop asking about their father. The weekend we talked to him on the phone, he was crying and the girls noticed and we did not know what to answer them. They are the most affected, they are suffering a lot, please help me.”
5. Villavicencio, Whose Wife is a Naturalized Citizen, Was Ordered Deported in 2010
The New York Times gave the delivery man’s name as Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, 35, and says he was working for a “brick-oven pizza restaurant in Queens.” His wife, Sandra Chica, told Telemundo that “her 3 and 4 year old daughters were born in the country, and she applied for permanent residency for Pablo last February.”
The Times reports that the military police officer did a background check because Villavicencio didn’t have a driver’s license and found “an open order of deportation from 2010.” His wife told the Times he is supposed to be deported in a week to Ecuador.
The Times reported that he has no criminal record but “was granted a voluntary departure order from an immigration judge in 2010, but did not leave.” The newspaper added that his wife is a naturalized citizen from Colombia, and the couple lives in Long Island and has two daughters. The manager at the restaurant told the Times he was a “good guy.”