Remember Pablo Villavicencio? The devoted family man? The “model citizen” according to the federal judge who set him free last month (except that he isn’t a citizen; he’s an illegal alien who another judge had ordered deported in 2010)? The martyr, persecuted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who arrested him on an out-standing warrant when he attempted to deliver a pizza to Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn NY without the required documentation to enter a military base?
Yes, that Pablo Villavicencio.
Well, Pablo didn’t stay out of the news very long. Last week the devoted family man and “model citizen” was arrested by Long Island police on domestic violence charges. The criminal complaint against him alleges that he assaulted his wife, Sandra Chica, during an argument, when things got heated and she tried to call the police.
Villavicencio’s character, aside from the fact that he was in the country illegally, may have played a role in the immigration judge’s decision to issue a deportation order in 2010. But none of that was important to the Abolish ICE movement when they made him their cause’s Joan of Arc.
Back in June, there were tearful vigils held to protest ICE’s “cruelty” for breaking up the Villavicencio household over “minor” facts like violating U.S. immigration laws, being a fugitive from justice, working illegally, etc. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, then facing an Abolish ICE primary challenger (Cuomo merely labeled ICE a “bunch of thugs”), put the full moral weight of the State of New York behind the martyred Villavicencio. “While the federal government continues its un-American assault on immigrants, New York will stand with our immigrant communities and strive to uphold the values embodied by the (Statue of Liberty),” Cuomo declared.
Oh, and the two teams of lawyers who were representing Villavicencio in his righteous struggle against ICE have sent a bill to the federal government for their services: Roughly $190,000. For the record, the meticulous bookkeepers at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton want the taxpayers to pony up exactly $139,514.02, while the Legal Aid Society of New York is asking for $69,245.70. (Debevoise & Plimpton is as posh as its name suggests. The firm employs more than 600 lawyers and had revenues of $822 million in 2017.) Justice may be blind, but she ain’t cheap.
Villavicencio is once again in custody, which raises an interesting question. When the protestors gather outside the courthouse for his next hearing, will they be carrying “Free Pablo” signs or “I Believe Sandra” placards?
Ira Mehlman writes for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.