An undocumented man was turned over to immigration officials after delivering pizza to a Brooklyn Army base. Pablo Villavicencio, a husband and father who is originally from Ecuador, was making a delivery to the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton last Friday (June 1) when he was flagged by a security guard who found an immigration warrant under his name and immediately contacted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), NPR reported Tuesday (June 6).
Rachael Yong Yow Public Affairs Officer for ICE’s New York branch confirmed that Villavicencio was “detained by military police officers and turned over to ICE.”
The father of two had made deliveries to Fort Hamilton before, without incident. Speaking to the New York Post by phone from immigration detention, Villavicencio explained that there was a “different security guard” on duty than who he had previously dealt with. “He told me I needed to go get another pass to enter…A tall man with dark skin started to ask me many questions, he asked me about why I didn’t have any Social Security card,” Villavicencio said.
“He called the NYPD and the NYPD told him I didn’t have any record, that I was clean. But the man said, ‘I don’t care.’ He said I need to keep waiting and he called ICE.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York Council member Justin Brannan are among those demanding answers. During a press conference Tuesday, Brannan called the situation “troubling” and shared that while visiting Fort Hamilton “many times as a kid” he was never asked to show ID.
“After 9/11 maybe I had to show my driver’s license,” Brannan told the press. “So I’ve gotta’ ask, does the Army now have some policy that demands all non-military personal show proof of citizenship to get on the Army base?”
He also questioned why Villavicencio was singled out, and suspects that his arrest could be part of a “deportation strategy” championed by the Trump Administration. “We need to know.”
The warrant under Villavicencio’s name was issued after a judge granted him a voluntary departure in 2010. When he failed to leave the U.S., the order became a “final order for removal.”
Villavicencio applied for a green card in February and was “awaiting permanent residency status.” His wife and children are U.S. citizens.
“We’re told these soldiers gladly took the pizza from Pablo before turning him over to ICE,” added Brannan.
Villavicencio is now facing deportation. He is being held in a New Jersey facility.
See more on his case below.