Pablo Airaldi is free!
The beloved bike messenger and cycling shop owner, who has been held in a deplorable immigration detention center in New Jersey for 10 weeks stemming from a decade-old, out-of-state theft case, was released early this morning after a New York immigration judge threw out the criminal case.
“He has been released,” said Airaldi’s attorney Stan Weber. “The judge has terminated his case and his immigration troubles have ended. He’s home.”
The decision marks the end of a turbulent few months for the 28-year-old former bike messenger, who was detained by Immigration National Services after a routine court appearance in October and faced deportation to Uruguay, where he was born.
Airaldi committed a theft felony nearly a decade ago in Indiana, a case that has since been dropped — but the charge caught the attention of immigration officials when Airaldi tried to travel to Canada two years ago for a bike race.
A legal permanent resident since 1991 and a Brooklyn resident for about five years, Airaldi is well known not only in the bike messenger community but also throughout Greenpoint, where he opened a bike repair shop, Greenpoint Bikes, last August.
Friends have been lobbying state and federal legislators for weeks for Airaldi’s release and were preparing to plead his case at a court hearing in Manhattan Thursday morning, but the court’s surprising motion ended the case.
Instead, they will welcome him home this week.