Venue Challenged in ICE Pizza Detention

MANHATTAN (CN) – Responding to the deportation challenge by an Ecuadoran man whom immigration authorities snared while he brought pizza to an Army base in Brooklyn, the government says the deliveryman chose the wrong venue for his court battle.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Cordaro noted in the opposition brief Monday that Pablo Villavicencio Calderon may have been apprehended in New York but that habeas challenges must be heard in the district of confinement.

Since his arrest on June 1 at Fort Hamilton in South Brooklyn, 35-year-old Villavicencio Calderon has been held at the Hudson County Jail in Kearny, New Jersey. Fort Hamilton is about an hour from the Queens pizzeria Nonna Delia’s where Villavicencio Calderon did deliveries before his arrest.

A father of two who is married to a U.S citizen, Villavicencio Calderon presented his state-issued municipal ID and was questioned by a guard when he arrived at Fort Hamilton.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement took the man to jail after a background check revealed that he had an open order of removal since 2010.

Prosecutors concede that Villavicencio Calderon has no criminal record but that he entered the country illegally in 2008 and was labeled a fugitive after he was granted voluntary departure in July 2010.

Pablo Villavicencio poses with his two daughters, Luciana, left, and Antonia. Called on to deliver a pizza to the military base Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York, Villavicencio was unable to produce a New York state driver’s license for identification, so a guard called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on him. Villavicencio was detained by military police and handed over to ICE pending removal from the country.

A federal judge in the Southern District of New York initially put Villavicencio Calderon’s  deportation on hold until July 20, but that date was later adjourned to July 24 to better accommodate the parties’ schedules.

Legal Aid Society attorneys Gregory Copeland and Sarah Gillman brought the emergency habeas corpus petition for Calderon earlier this month after the immigrant’s commissary account at Hudson County Jail was closed out.

In Monday’s opposition filing, prosecutor Cordaro argued that Villavicencio Calderon’s detention claims fail on the merits because his detention pending removal, which has lasted less than one month, is permissible under the Immigration and National Act.

Cordaro wrote that the act also “expressly strips the federal courts of jurisdiction to entertain claims arising from the execution of removal orders, and strips the district courts of jurisdiction to entertain challenges to final removal orders-channeling such challenges to the court of appeals.”

The prosecutor claims that in the event that Villavicencio Calderon’s post-removal-order detention exceeds six months, he would still not be entitled for release from custody unless he can reasonably establish that there is no significant likelihood of removal in the forseeable future.

Villavicencio Calderon’s wife, Sandra Chica, a U.S. citizen, filed an I-130 petition for alien relative in February which is currently pending before U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services.

Supporters gathered outside of the Fort Hamilton Army Base on June 6, chanting “Free Pablo, Abolish ICE” and “No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants Are Welcome Here” and held up empty pizza boxes with protest slogans such as “Pizza Not Persecution” and “Pineapple And ICE Agents Don’t Belong On Pizza.”

Villavicencio Calderon and Chica live in Hempstead, Long Island. One of the couple’s children has a congenital heart defect.

President Donald Trump has twice held events in Long Island to address violence related the Salvadoran gang MS-13 and demand toughened immigration policies.

At a May roundtable conference with federal and local law authorities, Trump mused on the Central American gang’s perceived presence in the suburban enclave: “It’s a menace. A ruthless gang that has violated our borders and has transformed once peaceful neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields,” Trump said.

“And see towns that I have known all my life, I grew up here,” the Queens native told the crowd. I know every one of the towns and it’s unthinkable. That it’s almost like an occupied territory where your children are afraid to go out, and in many cases if they go out, bad things happen.”

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