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Detained on arrival: Locals protest arrest of undocumented pizza deliveryman at Fort Hamilton Army Base

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Photo gallery

1/6
Fighting back: Protesters said an undocumented pizza deliveryman was unfairly detained during a routine delivery to Fort Hamilton Army Base on June 1.
2/6
Raising their voices: Well-known local activist Linda Sarsour was one of the leaders of the protest and march condemning the federal detention of the deliveryman.
3/6
It’s not over: Councilman Carlos Menchaca said he and other local officials were working to secure representation for deliveryman Pablo Villavicencio Calderon.
4/6
Scene of the detention: Guards at Fort Hamilton Army Base allegedly broke with precedent when they demanded the pizza deliveryman hand over identification.
5/6
Speaking out: Protesters led a march from outside Fort Hamilton Army Base to Fifth Avenue and 87th Street, where six were arrested for blocking traffic on the grounds of civil disobedience.
6/6
Speaking out: Protesters gathered on Fifth Avenue and 87th Street, where six were arrested for blocking traffic on the grounds of civil disobedience.

The federal government must release an undocumented immigrant who Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detained while he made a routine pizza delivery to Fort Hamilton Army Base on June 1, demanded protesters gathered just across the street at John Paul Jones Park in Bay Ridge on June 6.

Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) called the incident a real-world, close-to-home example of the fallout of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

“He came all the way out here to deliver pizza, time and time and time again. This time, there was a problem. No idea why,” Brannan said. “This is no longer on TV, it’s now in our backyard. This arbitrary enforcement, the unequal enforcement of laws is what divides people. How does taking a pizza delivery guy off the street make us any safer? It’s ridiculous.”

The incident, first reported by Spanish newspaper El Diario on June 4, immediately attracted national attention after Pablo Villavicencio Calderon’s family and local officials charged that he was unfairly targeted and detained due to his immigration status.

At the Wednesday protest, locals chanted “Free Pablo, Abolish ICE” and “No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants Are Welcome Here” and held up empty pizza boxes emblazoned with slogans such as “Pizza Not Persecution” and “Pineapple And ICE Agents Don’t Belong On Pizza.” After the rally, they marched up Fourth Avenue, turned onto 86th Street, and looped up Fifth Avenue, where six protesters were arrested near 87th Street for blocking traffic.

Calderon delivered pies to the Army base — where he had delivered pizza about once a month in the past — from Nonna Delia’s in Flushing, Queens on June 1 at around 11 am, according to a spokeswoman for the base.

When he allegedly lacked the proper military identification required for entry to the base, personnel at the base’s Visitor Control Center ran a customary background check in order to grant him a temporary pass, at which point, the spokeswoman said they discovered an active warrant on file from the federal immigration agency, prompting base personnel to turn him over to the federal agency, according to the spokeswoman, who said personnel followed proper protocol.

“Department of Defense installation commanders are authorized to take reasonably necessary and lawful measures to maintain law and order and protect installation personnel and property,” said Cathy Santopietro. “This enables the Fort Hamilton Commander to enforce a safe and secure working environment suitable for all.”

But Calderon’s wife Sandra Chica — a U.S. citizen — said that he displayed the same city identification card that he had used to get into the base in the past, and that he had applied for a green card in February. She added that he lacked a driver’s license — which she called a “mistake” — and that he will likely be deported to Ecuador sometime next week, according to the New York Times.

A spokeswoman from the immigration agency said privacy concerns prevented her confirming whether or not Calderon had filed a green card application, but said that a green card application would not affect whether or not he would be deported. She said that in March 2010 an immigration judge ordered Calderon to leave the country, but when he failed to leave by the July deadline, he was classified as a “fugitive.” The agency will now hold him until he is deported, she said.

“He remains in ICE custody pending removal,” said Rachael Yong Yow.

Brannan said the base’s claim that Calderon lacked the proper identification was without precedent and would constitute a policy change that would impact every delivery person coming to the base.

“We want to get to the bottom of what is allowed to happen on an army base,” he said. “If they’re saying that every delivery person has to have a Department of Defense ID, they’re not going to get any deliveries. If that’s what they’re saying now, this changes everything. It seems like arbitrary enforcement.”

Gov. Cuomo secured a lawyer for Calderon and spoke with his wife on the morning of June 7, telling her he would do “anything we can do to help,” according to his spokeswoman.

Mayor DeBlasio called for Calderon’s release soon after, insisting that he had been unfairly detained.

“Delivering a pizza is not a threat to public safety,” the mayor wrote on Twitter.

But both state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge) — neither of whom attended the protest — insisted that personnel at the base behaved appropriately.

Golden said base personnel did what they were supposed to do in a “security incident.”

“I would expect nothing less from the Fort Hamilton Commander and its dedicated personnel who have committed their lives to protecting our citizens and country,” he wrote.

Donovan — who is taking heat over a controversial anti-immigrant mailer — went further, calling protests against the incident partisan “insanity,” and saying that personnel enforced the law.

“Liberal activists are attacking ICE agents and military personnel for following the law in detaining an immigrant reportedly here illegally,” he said.

The manager at Nonna Delia’s, the Queens pizza shop where Calderon was employed, said that Calderon’s family was suffering and that he didn’t deserve to be detained.

“He’s a great worker, good man, good family guy. Pray for the family, that’s all I can say,” said the manager, who declined to give his name.

Employees from two separate Bay Ridge pizza shops said they would refuse to deliver to the base in the future because of the identification requirements. One local pizza shop employee, who declined to be named, said the base used to order from them but no longer did, but that they wouldn’t take orders from the base in the future.

“We used to [deliver there], but we don’t anymore,” said the employee at Bari’s Pizza, on Fourth Avenue between 86th and 87th streets. “We wouldn’t go now.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:43 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mr. Bookman from Brooklyn Heights says:
Mr. Calderon has been a fugitive since 2010, more than enough time to at least attempt to resolve his deportation order. For whatever reason, he chose to live in the shadows. Suppose he was a citizen but had an outstanding warrant for Jumping a Turnstyle or non-payment of child support? Would the security detail have been wrong for acting on it? And please understand, I am pro-immigration, I am absolutely against this chasing down and extraditing immigrants who are here, legal or not, who only want to start a new life and are law abiding. Mr. Calderon did not use common sense - City ID being previously accepted or not.
June 8, 3:35 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
If he were an illegal from Poland and (apparently)driving without a license would these professional protestors be out there to support him? What card would they play then?
June 8, 6:41 am
Clark from Brooklyn Heights says:
This is good, please start sending more of them back.
They’re criminals, they drive up rents, they smell, and are dirty.
June 8, 6:56 am
Its Me from Bay Ridge says:
It is somewhat odd that Cathy Santopietro is telling everyone that the delivery guy was requesting a day pass. Delivery personnel don't get day passes because, as I recall, day passes require a sponsor. He was delivering food. The adult thing to do would have been to deny access to anyone without appropriate ID. That would still ensure the safety she is boasting about protecting. Most of that whole bunch down there could use a big hug. as far as Marty's response....bless him. you all elected him.
June 8, 8:40 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Criminal is detained by law enforcement and placed where he belongs. Good job by the MP’s and our heros at ICE.
June 8, 9:02 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) called the incident a real-world, close-to-home example of the fallout of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies."

Dumbazz - Trump is not anti immigrant. He has had 2 immigrant wives. He is anti Illegal Alien.

This guy, with a US CITIZEN WIFE, could have gone home, (Equador is not a bad place) and had his US CITIZEN WIFE petition for him to come here. But that was not convenient.

Justin, if you can't tell an immigrant from an illegal alien, maybe you can't tell a house guest from a burglar. What country would you like to go frolic in?
June 8, 9:10 am
SCR from Realityville says:
Mr.Calderon should definitely be deported,as the laws of the land require. And I would also,look to prosecute,if possible these two pizzerias? The hired an individual who was here"illegally",for more than eight-years. And he droves their van/s,without any"drivers-license. The appropriate authorities should even investigate,if Mr.Calderon,was paid the legal(NYC)
minimum-wage,during his employment there.
June 8, 9:26 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Not having legal status falls under Federal jurisdiction while driving without a license is a NY State CPL issue (although the article doesn't specify if he was on a motor vehicle as opposed to like a bicycle or something). Even forgetting the Federal issue, violation of NY State law and NYC DOT Regulations is enough to be a problem even for someone with valid status let alone no or lapsed status.

However I think issues like that can be resolved without resorting to deportation, which is an extreme measure and shouldn't be used in every case.

When I lived and worked in a foreign country I followed every regulation, filled out every form, registered with the government, and made damn sure I didn't go out without my Alien Registration Card, so it's tough to hear the argument that rules shouldn't apply, bug how those rules help resolve situations should be carefully taken into account. A federal office downtown somewhere should be able to take care of something like this, send everyone back on their way, and call it a day.
June 8, 9:36 am
Bill from ashamed of the "real" NY'ers says:
Can't say I'm shocked that a bunch of yokels would support this. Everyone knows the "natives" here are a bunch of racists who want immigrants out of "their" country. Yet wouldn't take the jobs they leave behind once deported.
June 8, 10:50 am
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
How was this man supporting his family on pizza delivery man wages?
June 8, 11:08 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Nah, we will take those jobs, once illegals are not driving down wages for citizens any longer.
June 8, 11:40 am
Bill from ashamed of the "real" NY'ers says:
Shame on you POS liars and bigots.
June 8, 12:06 pm
Law and Disorder from Formally of Brooklyn Now N C says:
Another reason we left NY. I would like to see these protesters open up there homes to these illegals. They pay no taxes but you do.
When a us citizen has to go for emergency treatment the 1st thing they ask for is insurance. When a illegal goes to emergency they get emergency Medicaid and food stamps. Give me a break get them all out now by any means possable.
June 8, 12:26 pm
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
Well,I wouldn't take the job because I don't have a driver's license -- oh,wait,...On a side note, what is so special about this pizza that it was being delivered from Flushing to Bay Ridge?
June 8, 12:55 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Driving without a license is a violation. It becomes aggravated driving without a licence which can be a musdeamor or a felony after your license is suspended or revoked or your privileges are suspended or revoked. It also affects the ability to get a license.
June 8, 1:25 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Federal law prohibits illegals from getting any federal benefits
States are free to have their own rules and pay. Hospitals are required to treat and stabilize all emergency cases.I am not sure of all the rules but the federal prohibition is broad and deep.
June 8, 1:32 pm
Frank from Furter says:
MOST illegals avoid all contact with the government including Medicaid and food stamps just because they are afraid they will get detained and deported.
June 8, 1:33 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I wish i got deported.
June 8, 1:40 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I hope those lazy numbskull soldiers learn how to cook, because no one should be making or delivering them food ever again.

They can stay in their little base and boil eggs. Don't come out.
June 8, 1:59 pm
Its me again from BayRidge says:
that lady down the waterway, you know the one that held up the light to immigrants, she's confused, bowing her head, and shedding tears.
June 8, 2:53 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
That lady down the waterway had and has nothing to do with illegal immigration.

What country would you like to set up shop in, and make your own rules?

Tell me which one will let you in, let you work, and pay to feed your children?
June 8, 3:02 pm
Its me again from Bay Ridge says:
Oh Rufus our own Native American contributor. I wrote she held up the light to immigrants. Nothing in my comments talked about doing anything illegal, breaking rules, or other people's children. It may be the ambien I'm sure.
June 8, 4:40 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Then why should she weep?
June 8, 4:52 pm
Keny My from Red Hook says:
Henry Ford you spelled heroes wrong. It's disrespectfull to the troops.
June 8, 8:42 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Keny My from Red Hook, you can’t expect him to spell correctly. His parents are brother and sister.
June 8, 10:33 pm
Gary from Fort Greene says:
Slim Jim says: The first illegal immigrants to settle in North America 'criminals' as they are known in Bay Ridge, were Caucasians. The Pilgrims, founders of Plymouth, Massachusetts, arrived in 1620.

Slim, please cite the law pertaining to immigration by the Pilgrims that was in existence in 1620.
June 9, 12:49 pm
Julie from Bay Ridge says:
Where can I find a list of places boycotting the military base? I want to boycott them.
June 9, 2:50 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Julie, I doubt any business in Bay Ridge would be self destructive enough to blow up their business. If there are, I’ll join you in that boycott.
June 9, 4:34 pm
Major Pain from Army says:
Who is gonna bring me my damned pizza now??!!!
June 9, 7:04 pm
Jim Fat from Truth says:
Jim Slim - wrong! The first illegal immigrants were the Indians who entered North America with no right to do so. The just came and took whatever they wanted, when this land belonged to the Animals!
June 9, 7:08 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Every pizza place in Bay Ridge will more than happy to deliver to you, Major.
June 9, 7:11 pm
ProspectHeightsResident from Prospect Heights says:
The owner of the pizzeria where the illegal alien worked is calling for his release? How about we prosecute this owner for employing an illegal alien? What a joke.
June 9, 11:44 pm
Trudy from Midwood says:
Illegal pizza? Ha!!! The irony!!
June 10, 7:11 am
Rebecca says:
200 years later and 4 billion more people, it's time to rethink things
June 10, 6:23 pm
Carter from Park slope says:
To all the people who want to kick him out - do you know how disgusting his home country is?!? You try and live in that dump! It’s gross !
June 11, 5:54 am
Mustafa Khant from Atlantic Ave says:
Ecuador is a dump? Racist!
June 11, 6:58 am
Bunny from Bay Ridge says:
I agree with SCR from Realityville.
People don't realize that illegals need to become legal, My husband is a veteran and fought for this country to be free. Don't be blindsided by these illegals fighting for the rights that they have to work for as an American. They are not all bad people, but should know that they have to be LEGAL TO GET AMERICAN PRIVILEGES. These people would not fight for your freedom, but want their freedom. They have to contribute to this country to deserve to be here. I think ICE should follow up on the pizzerias hiring these illegals.
June 11, 7:02 am
SCR from Realityville says:
And,might I add is,NYC and/or NYS,enforcing labor laws;for all? This includes"illegal"immigrants. The current NYC minimum-wage,is $13.00 hourly. Or $12.00 per-hour,if the businesses,have 10(ten);or fewer employees. Although,"tipped-workers",have a lower"minimum",there are still guaranteed,the full minimum-wage. The employer,is required,to pay;the difference-if his/her"tips",don't.
June 11, 11:32 am
Frank from FURTER says:
He applied for a green card on the basis he is married to a us citizen
It would eventually be gtanted. He paid the fee it just takes years to process. When he applied he told them where he lives.
June 11, 3:29 pm
Summer Day from FL says:
I have followed this story, he may not be able to get a green card because of his own action. Stayed in the US when he was to leave 8 yrs ago, got arrested for driving without a licenses. Now he has a record, they wouldn't approve his green card. His wife should be arrested too, but they won"t.
June 16, 8:28 am

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