New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, chair of the council’s immigration committee, speaks at a news conference about Ecuadorean restaurant worker Pablo Villavicencio outside the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York City on June 8, 2018.
Photo: Richard Drew (AP Images)

After Pablo Villavicencio, a 35-year-old immigrant from Ecuador, was detained and then turned over to immigration agents after delivering pizza to a Brooklyn, N.Y., military base last week, many restaurants and delivery services in the area began a boycott of the Army garrison. This act serves not only as a form of protection for those who make deliveries there but also as retribution against the jerk who took it upon himself to call the feds in the first place.

“I won’t send my guys there anymore,” said Josefina Cardoso, owner of the El Puente restaurant in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, to the New York Post. “I would feel guilty if something happened.”


“[W]e have received several calls ... with request to ... remove the Fort Hamilton Army Base from their delivery zones,” said Rafi Cohen—who works with, which manages the websites and online ordering systems for many restaurants around the base—to Pluralist. “They will no longer be delivering food there.”

“We don’t need a problem with them,” echoed Julianna Oliverio, a cashier at Goustaro deli in Bay Ridge, to the New York Daily News on Thursday. “We don’t tell our guys to go in there. Have them meet them at the gate.”

All of this stems from a June 1 incident involving Villavicencio. As reported by The Root, the father of two was delivering pizza pies to the base and was asked for identification.


When he presented his New York City ID—a free, government-based card available to all city residents regardless of their immigration status—he was asked for another form of ID. When he wasn’t able to provide one, he was directed to get a daily pass. This is when it all went to pot, The Root reported:

During that process, Villavicencio ... agreed to a background check, during which officials discovered an active Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrant.

Villavicencio was immediately detained by military police and released to ICE, which brought the father of two to a detention center in New Jersey, where he now awaits deportation.


However, Villavicencio, who is married to an American citizen, told the New York Post last week that he never signed a waiver for a background check, and saying that he did so is “a lie.”

“I am 100 percent sure that I did not sign any document there,” Villavicencio said.


According to the Post, the manager of the Queens, N.Y., pizzeria where Villavicencio works said that one guard just “had it out for him.”

“They don’t ask us for ID,” said Juan Salvador, 38, an immigrant from Guatemala who delivers for Brooklyn deli Goustaro. But his manager said that she, too, is now afraid to send undocumented delivery folks to the base.


The good news is that Villavicencio’s case has been taken up by some pretty powerful people, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who offered him free legal representation on Thursday.

“Detaining a hardworking man, separating a father from his children and tearing apart communities, doesn’t make America safe, and a wrong-minded immigration policy grounded in bias and cruelty doesn’t make America great,” Cuomo said.


The latest in the case is that Villavicencio, who was supposed to be deported as early as Monday, has been granted an emergency stay until July 20.


In the meantime, I hope that restaurants in the area continue to detain their services from the Fort Hamilton military base.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Deputy Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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