After a hearing Tuesday morning, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty granted Villavicencio a stay of deportation later that day, allowing him to remain in the U.S. while he pursues permanent residency.
During the hearing Tuesday, the judge asked tough questions of the government lawyer, including “What is the danger to the country for a man who has not committed a crime?” and “Is there any concept of justice here, or are we just doing this because we want to?”
In the nearly two months of his detention since June 1, the local community has rallied behind Villavicencio ― who is married to a United States citizen, has two young children and began the process of pursuing a green card earlier this year.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called for Villavicencio’s release.
“I cannot imagine what Pablo went through the last few weeks,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted upon news of his release. “He was separated from his family and his loved ones for delivering a pizza in America in 2018.”
Villavicencio’s arrest as he delivered pizza to Fort Hamilton last month came amid mounting public outcry against President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies, including a zero tolerance policy that resulted in about 2,500 kids being separated from their parents at the border.
“The rule of law, humanity and morality prevailed tonight with the Court’s order releasing Pablo back to his family and community,” said Adriene Holder, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society, which defended Villavicencio in court. “This decision should serve as a rebuke against the Trump Administration and its merciless crusade to tear families apart.”