NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – He went to a Brooklyn Army base to deliver a pizza and left in handcuffs.
Now, Pablo Villavicencio is at the center of a national immigration debate and the case is sparking outrage.
“Please ICE, do the right thing with my husband,” his wife Sandra Chica pleaded. “He is trying to stay here the legal way. Please don’t stop him, don’t take him away from us.”
The undocumented immigrant from Ecuador was arrested last week delivering pizza to Fort Hamilton. A routine ID check showed an outstanding deportation warrant from 2010.
Now, the father of two with an open green card application is on track to be deported.
“His wife is broken, his children are crying and frankly this is where we need real leadership,” said Cesar Vargas, an immigration attorney with the Dream Action Coalition.
The Coffee Club diner is one of dozens of restaurants in the neighborhood that have been delivering to the base for years. Now, the owners told CBS2’s Jessica Moore their drivers are afraid to do their jobs.
“I can’t put my guy in a situation where he doesn’t feel comfortable. So as a business owner, you take it upon yourself and you make the delivery,” said Lauren Homsi.
Meanwhile, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand are vowing to fight to keep Villavicencio from being sent back to Ecuador.
“This is a hardworking family guy, and all he wants is to work hard, earn an honest living and support his family. He’s not the kind of person who should be ripped from his family,” Schumer said.
“We’ve reached out to his family to offer assistance,” said Gillibrand.
When Moore asked what specific assistance she’s offered – his license, his green card application, Gillibrand replied, “all of it.”
But not all lawmakers agree.
“I think it’s ridiculous that people are saying that the people in our military and our ICE agents did something wrong. We have immigration laws that they are charged to enforce,” Rep. Dan Donovan, R-Staten Island, said.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for an investigation into the conduct of the ICE officers involved in the case.
The Legal Aid Society filed an emergency stay of removal for Villavicencio on humanitarian grounds, and Chica is pleading with the governor to expedite her husband’s green card application so he can stay in the country.