NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man from Ecuador who was detained while delivering pizza to an Army base in Brooklyn is back home with his family.
Being able to pick up and embrace his young daughters is what Pablo Villavicencio had dreamed of for the 53 days he was in detection.
“My family together. My daughters, my wife. Now it’s complete,” he said.
He said the first thing he did when got home was take a shower “for the first time.”
“Like for one hour,” his wife said.
Villavicencio spoke Wednesday outside of his Hempstead, Long Island house with his wife Sandra and daughters Luciana and Antonia by his side.
His wife fought vigorously for Villavicencio’s release, which happened late Tuesday night after a court order freed him from the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey.
“It hasn’t been easy but always we had the feeling he’d come home,” she said.
It was in early June that Villavicencio was trying to deliver a pizza to Fort Hamilton when he was arrested after an ID check at the Army base showed an outstanding deportation warrant from 2010.
Villavicencio’s wife and children are all U.S. citizens and even with an open Green Card application, he was put on track to be deported. On Tuesday, the judge ordered an emergency stay to prevent that until a later hearing.
“Although he stayed in the United States unlawfully and is currently subject to a final order of removal, he has otherwise been a model citizen,” U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty wrote of Pablo Villavicencio.
The judge ruled that Villavicencio can stay in the U.S. while he exhausts his rights to gain legal status.
“He has no criminal history,” the judge wrote. “He has paid his taxes. And he has worked diligently to provide for his family.”
The U.S. government, which had wanted the case moved from New York to New Jersey, did not immediately comment on the judge’s action.
“It gives him the chance to go through the process to normalize his status and hopefully become a legal permanent resident of the United States,” said Gregory Copeland with the Legal Aid Society.
Villavicencio said his time at the detention center was very difficult.
“He feels that was unfair,” his wife said. “Thank God the judge yesterday decide that he’s a good person, that he’s a father that want to stay with his kids.”
Villavicencio said Tuesday night that he is grateful to his family and all those who fought for his release.
“Thank you for everything,” he said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)