Judge questions state of justice for pizza-worker immigrant Pablo Villavicencio
A federal judge asked Tuesday if the U.S. government has “any concept of justice” in mind as he questioned the need to deport an Ecuadorean immigrant detained while delivering pizza to a Brooklyn Army installation and now kept apart from his American wife and two young children.
Judge Paul A. Crotty put a government lawyer on the spot as he heard legal arguments over whether a court in New Jersey or New York should help decide the fate of Pablo Villavicencio, who failed to obey a 2010 deportation order before marrying a U.S. citizen and making a life in America.
He did not immediately rule, but he questioned the motivations behind the government’s decisions to put Villavicencio, 35, on the brink of expulsion.
“Well, the powerful are doing what they want, and the poor are suffering what they must,” Crotty said after hearing Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Cordaro defend the government’s actions.
“I mean, is there any concept of justice here or are we just doing this because we want to?” the judge asked. “Why do we want to enforce the order? It makes no difference in terms of the larger issues facing the country.”
Cordaro argued for the case to be transferred to New Jersey because Villavicencio is detained there. He said legal precedent dictated that New Jersey was the proper venue.
Cordaro said Villavicencio would still be able to pursue his application to become a legal U.S. resident after he is deported.
The case has attracted widespread attention amid a crackdown by the administration of President Donald Trump on illegal immigration.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement Tuesday saying the federal government has “cruelly” kept Villavicencio from his wife and two young daughters “for no legitimate reason.”
Villavicencio was detained June 1 after a routine background check revealed he failed to obey the 2010 order to leave the country.
Villavicencio’s lawyers say he should be released from custody as he pursues his February application to gain legal immigration status from his marriage to a U.S. citizen. He and his wife, Sandra Chica, have two girls, ages 2 and 4. They played with toys Tuesday as courtroom spectators around them observed the legal arguments. Villavicencio was not in court.
Another judge already temporarily blocked his deportation. He has remained in ICE custody in New Jersey.
Lawyers Ann Marie Domyancic and Matthew Forbes argued for an order preventing Villavicencio’s deportation and asked that he be freed while his case prevailed, an argument that attracted Crotty’s sympathy.
“Why is he being detained? Is he a threat to the community? Is he a risk of flight?” Crotty asked. “What is the danger to the community for a man who has committed no crime?”
Cordaro responded that it was common practice to detain individuals who face an immediate removal order.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment