An illegal immigrant who gained national notoriety after he was detained while delivering a pizza to an army base in June has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief after allegedly assaulting his wife.
Pablo Villavicencio, who was exempted from deportation by a judge after his cause was taken up by prominent immigration activists, was arrested early Monday and taken to the Nassau County Detention Center. He allegedly pushed his wife against a wall and slapped her before confiscating her phone to prevent a call for help, according to police documents reviewed by a local NBC affiliate.
U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty, who ruled in June that Villavicencio could remain in the U.S. while exhausting all attempts to gain citizenship, praised him as a “model citizen” in that decision.
“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,” Crotty wrote. “He has no criminal history. . . . He has paid his taxes. And he has worked diligently to provide for his family.”
In responding to the government’s argument that Villavicencio should be subject to deportation, Crotty argued that doing so would not be in the national interest.
“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.”
New York governor Andrew Cuomo attacked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for “cruelly” detaining Villavicencio “for no legitimate reason” during his brief detention in June.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called Villavicencio’s detention “shameful” and used the incident as a cudgel to bash the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration-enforcement policy, which she said was “inhumane, plain and simple” and did “not make our country safer.”
ICE officials confirmed to NBC that Villavicencio will not be deported while there are criminal charges pending against him.