DOJ Rescinds the Government's Appeal to Important Habeas Corpus Win for Detained Immigrant Father

5 October 2018

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and The Legal Aid Society secured an important win in federal court, reuniting undocumented immigrant father Pablo Villavicencio with his wife and two young daughters after over 50 days of detainment. His wife and children are U.S. citizens. Federal prosecutors have rescinded the request to appeal the habeas corpus writ granted to Mr. Villavicencio, allowing him to continue to pursue lawful residency status.

A spokesman for The Legal Aid Society, which is part of the team providing Villavicencio legal representation, said, “We are glad that today the Federal Government fully withdrew their challenge to Mr. Villavicencio’s hard-won release from immigration detention and his opportunity to pursue lawful status. With Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, we will continue to represent Mr. Villavicencio, and work with him on securing status to remain in the United States with his family.”

While routinely delivering a catering order to a Brooklyn Army base in June, Mr. Villavicencio was halted by security officials who questioned the validity of his identification and alerted federal immigration officials. Following his arrest, Mr. Villavicencio was held at Hudson County Correctional Facility, missing Father’s Day and his oldest daughter’s birthday, and causing significant emotional and monetary hardship for his family.

Legal Aid Society attorneys filed a habeas corpus petition following his arrest, challenging Mr. Villavicencio’s confinement. In a hearing on July 24th, Debevoise lawyers Anna Domyancic and Matthew Forbes argued for his immediate release from ICE custody, citing 2016 regulations announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that allow undocumented immigrants to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the United States. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Villavicencio was in the midst of that application process.

Hours after oral argument concluded, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled in Mr. Villavicencio’s favor, holding that the Government depriving him of the process announced in the 2016 regulations would violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Judge Crotty prohibited the Government from removing Mr. Villavicencio from the United States while in the process of applying for permanent residency, and ordered that Mr. Villavicencio be immediately released.

The Debevoise team included partner Catherine Amirfar and associates Anna Domyancic, Matthew Forbes, and Leonie Stoute.

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