A fast food worker tried to deliver a pizza and ended up getting detained by immigration

A fast food worker tried to deliver a pizza and ended up getting detained by immigration

While we all love burgers, pizzas and french fries, I can't imagine it's as much fun being on the other side of the counter. Working at a drive-thru or working the fryer at your favourite fast food joint is a pretty common first job for a lot of us, and between the insane working hours and the stress of having to contend with some of the most belligerent customers in the world (hungry people), it's no surprise we quit our fast food jobs as soon as we can.

Slightly different to the in-house fast food worker, though, is the fast food deliverer. In theory, it's a lot easier if you're just driving to people's houses and handing them a pizza or some Chinese food, but away from the safe haven of your restaurant HQ, some pretty weird things can happen to you. But if you were ever a delivery boy or girl, I doubt that one of your trips ended up with you being detained by ICE.

That's what happened to Pablo Villavicencio, a 32-year-old delivery worker born in Ecuador who was tasked with delivering a pizza to the Fort Hamilton military base in New York.

Villavicencio, who is in the process of applying for a green card, had delivered to this base before, but when he rolled up to the Army-controlled base, a guard asked him for identification to prove he was a citizen. When Villavicencio failed to provide any such identification, the guard made a call, and reportedly “handed him over to immigration authorities”.

“For God’s sake, what is happening? How can it be that, now, in New York City, soldiers are changing their role to be middlemen to immigration agents?” lamented Sandra Chica, Villavicencio's wife, with whom he has two daughters - four-year-old Luciana and Antonia, who is three. Both daughters are US citizens, as well as Sandra Chica herself.

Speaking to Voices of New York via telephone, Chica said she is desperate to prevent her husband from being deported.

"There are no words to describe the drama my daughters and I are going through. In the blink of an eye, life changed for us, and all I am asking for now is that they don’t deport my husband, that they give him a chance.

This unprecedented case of soldiers taking immigration into their own hands has caused concern in the wider community, and Carlos Menchaca, chair of the City Council Committee on Immigration, has strongly criticised the "outrageous" nature by which Villavicencio was arrested and detained.

The arrest of Pablo Villavicencio at the Fort Hamilton military base is outrageous, cruel and useless. Now, a New York worker who was doing his job is facing all the dangers that a detention and deportation by ICE carry. Mr. Villavicencio, who has an active green card application and whose wife and children are all U.S. citizens, deserves to be free and to work and live in peace while his application is pending.

ICE's latest raids in New York have torn many families like Pablo Villavicencio's apart, and activist Javier H. Valdés pointed out that this is far from a rare occurrence in immigrant communities around the country.

This is the father of two girls who are U.S. citizens, and he is in the process of adjusting his immigration status. And now, we have the tragic and ridiculous case of a military base becoming an accomplice in these attacks, all while Mr. Villavicencio was doing his job of delivering pizzas to provide for his family.

Sandra Chica has been reaching out to television outlets and Spanish-speaking newspapers to appeal against her husband's deportation. Personnel at neither Fort Hamilton nor ICE have commented on the events.