Photo: AP Images

AĀ federal judge on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of a New York City man who was delivering Italian food to a military base back in June when he was arrested for being undocumented, marking the end of nearly two months in detention.


As the New York Post originally reported, Pablo Villavicencio, a native of Ecuador who lives in Long Island with his wife and kids, was making a routine delivery to an Army base in the Fort Hamilton section of Brooklyn on June 1. Villavicencio told the paper heā€™d made deliveries there before without incident and showed his IDNYC card, issued by the city. But once heā€™d entered the base, another officer demanded he show another form of identification and pressed him about why he couldnā€™t produce a Social Security card. That officer eventually called NYPD on Villavicencio. The police turned up ā€œan active [ICE] warrant,ā€ a Fort Hamilton spokeswoman told the Post, which dated back to him failing to act on a voluntary departure order in 2010.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty questioned why the government tried to deport someone he called a ā€œmodel citizenā€ who was in the process of applying for permanent residency and had no criminal record.

ā€œI mean, is there any concept of justice here or are we just doing this because we want to?ā€ Crotty rightfully pointed out during Villavicencioā€™s hearing on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. ā€œWhy do we want to enforce the order? It makes no difference in terms of the larger issues facing the country.ā€


Villavicencio is married to an American citizen, has two children who were born in the U.S., and was in the middle of seeking legal status at the time of his arrest. His marriage allowed him to submit a ā€œpetition for alien relativeā€ in February, the first step to seeking a green card.

Judge Crottyā€™s decision enables Villavicencio to continue pursuing his permanent residency and stops his deportation. Deporting him now would violate his rights under the Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedure Act, the judge ruled, as he is in the middle of the petition process.

Villavicencio returned to his family on Tuesday, after 53 days in detention at the Hudson County Correctional Facility.


ā€œIā€™m very happy to be free,ā€ he told Telemundo in Spanish after his release. ā€œIā€™m happy to be reunited with my wife and children.ā€