The Department of Justice is attempting to reverse the court decision that freed Pablo Villavicencio, the pizza deliveryman who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while dropping off food at the Fort Hamilton army base this past summer. He was subsequently fast-tracked for detention, generating nationwide outrage among immigrant advocates and ultimately celebration, after he was granted an emergency stay of deportation by a judge in August.
The process of appealing that decision was initiated this week by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman—a former law partner of Rudy Giuliani, and President Trump's pick to replace Preet Bharara earlier this year. According to the New York Law Journal, Berman notified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday of their intention to reverse an August 3rd ruling that granted Villavicencio's writ of habeas corpus.
That decision permitted Villavicencio—a resident of the United States for ten years—to return to his family while he applied for a green card. His wife, Sandra Chica, and two toddler daughters are naturalized U.S. citizens. Upon his release, Villavicencio told reporters, "I’m very happy to be free… so happy for my wife, my daughters, my lawyers. Thank you! Thank you for everything."
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty called Villavicencio a "model citizen," noting that he was following the Department of Homeland Security's pathway to regularizing his immigration status at the time of his deportation. "It is not unlike giving a person a job, and then taking away the tools necessary to perform the job. It is simply not right," Crotty wrote.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the decision to appeal.
Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at the Legal Aid Society, said they were "disappointed, but not surprised" by the government's attempt to void the decision. "We will continue to zealously represent Mr. Villavicencio and fight to keep his family together," she said.