NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Immigrant advocates rallied in Lower Manhattan for the release of Pablo Villavicencio, the undocumented immigrant detained upon delivering a pizza to a U.S. Army garrison at Fort Hamilton two weeks ago. A federal judge has temporarily blocked Villavicencio's deportation, and his wife, Sandra Chica, is now formally requesting ice let him return home to his family while proceedings continue.
Elected officials are connecting Villavicencio's case to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on immigrants illegally entering the country. The new policy has led to almost 2,000 children and counting separated from their parents at America's border from mid-April through the end of May.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said that children in New York City should not live in fear of the federal government separating them from their parents.
In a column for CNN, Mayor Bill de Blasio has confirmed that a 9-year-old boy from Honduras is in a federally contracted facility in New York after being separated from his mother at the southern border.
"There are many like him in New York City today," the mayor wrote.
Members of Congress from New York and New Jersey are speaking out about what they learned during a visit on Sunday to a men's-only detention center in Elizabeth.
President Trump defended the practice, tweeting, "Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder [sic] Security and Crime. Change the laws!
Now his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton has joined the chorus of critics.
"This is not happening because of the 'Democrats' law,' as the White House has claimed," Clinton said. "Separating families is not mandated by law at all. That is an outright lie."
A new Quinnipiac poll has 66 percent of American voters opposing the family separation policy.
As for Villavicencio's case, his next deportation proceedings' next hearing is set for July 24.