A New York City pizza deliverer who brought a pie to an Army base in Brooklyn was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be kicked out of the U.S.
Pablo Villavicencio-Calderon, 35, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador who worked for a restaurant in Queens, was seized as he delivered a pizza on Friday to Fort Hamilton. He was separated from his family and locked in a New Jersey detention facility to await deportation.
Calderon had delivered pizza to the base before, and presented a New York City identification card to a guard, his wife, Sandra Chica, told the publication El Dario. But this time, a military police officer demanded a driver’s license, which Calderon did not have.
Calderon was told he will be deported to Ecuador next week, his wife said.
“A lawyer told me that there is nothing he can do, that he is going to be deported,” Chica said at a press conference in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
ICE defended its actions.
“Pablo Villavicencio-Calderon is an illegally present citizen and national of Ecuador,” spokeswoman Rachel Yong Yow said in a statement to HuffPost. “In March 2010, he was granted voluntary departure by an immigration judge, but failed to depart by July 2010 as ordered. As such, his voluntary departure order became a final order of removal and is an ICE fugitive. ... He remains in ICE custody pending removal.”
Chica said her husband applied for a green card in February. She and her husband have two young children who are U.S. citizens. Calderon has been in the U.S. for a decade, his wife added.
Amid growing outrage over the pizza deliverer’s fate, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs promised to investigate.
“Overbroad enforcement against immigrant New Yorkers does nothing to make us safer,” the office said in a statement. “We are disturbed by these reports and looking into this situation.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called Calderon’s detention “unimaginable.”
New York City has proclaimed itself a so-called sanctuary city, meaning it does not cooperate with federal efforts to deport noncriminal undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, ICE has ramped up efforts to detain thousands of law-abiding immigrants who have made contributions to the U.S. despite their non-legal status.
Chica has set up a GoFundMe page asking for financial help in the wake of her husband’s arrest.
“We are alone in this country,” Chica wrote in her plea for help. “Now I’m by myself.”