Irish American New York judge fighting back against Homeland Security has long has a reputation as a straight shooter and is a highly respected figure.
At long last a senior judge has fought back at the Homeland Security obsession with deporting ordinary immigrants and demanded they free one of them, Ecuadorian Pablo Villavicencio Calderon (35) from custody.
The New York judge who did it should be no surprise. Federal District Judge Paul Crotty was appointed by George Bush and was formerly Rudy Giuliani’s corporation counsel when he was mayor. Crotty has long had a reputation as a straight shooter and is a highly respected figure in the Irish American community with roots in Clare.
Villavicencio from Ecuador had committed the unforgivable crime of delivering pizza to an army base in Brooklyn. He had been detained when he could only show has New York ID card.
He explained his case for becoming legal was due to be heard in August, but it was to no avail.
The pizza man, a clear threat to national security, was jailed in a New Jersey facility and deportation proceedings were begun. He had been held for 53 days.
His stricken wife, who is an American citizen, and their two children were about to lose a beloved father.
Until Judge Crotty intervened. “Is there any concept of justice here?” Judge Crotty asked the government’s lawyer.
(Those words remind me, strangely, of one of Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell’s famous cases the Doneraile Conspiracy where 21 local men were set up for guilty verdicts over an attack on English landowners and were set for hanging in 1829.
Desperate villagers sent for their only hope, Daniel O’Connell. O'Connell rode all the way from Kerry, 90 miles away, overnight to defend them, He destroyed the government case repeating the phrase when he thundered “that’s not law” at his Solicitor General opponent who was interviewing corrupt witnesses and won his case.)
Of course, there is no sense of justice or proportion in the Pablo deportation case either. He was within weeks of likely getting his green card, working all the hours in the day, doing a pizza delivery job no American would be caught dead doing.
Yet he was being treated like an international terrorist.
But Crotty was unafraid to call a spade a spade. As to the pizza man being kept in jail he asked the government lawyer
““Is he a threat to the country? A flight risk? Don’t they have to justify it””
As the Times reported:
“The lawyer, Joseph Cordaro, stammered, but said that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, had made the decision.”
Crotty cut to the point. “Removal is no longer reasonably feasible,” he wrote in an order which was followed by a formal opinion.
Now Pablo can go through the legal process he was embarked on until the army pizza delivery ended with him in jail.
“It’s absolutely sensational, he’s back with his family and the judge has allowed him to go through the process,” said Gregory Copeland, one of Villavicencio lawyers from the Legal Aid Society of New York.
Thank you, Judge Crotty, Republican appointee for showing more humanity in one decision than all the “immigrants are rapists and terrorists” verbiage from the other side and yes, your final comments were indeed brilliant.
“The powerful are doing what they want,” he said, “and the poor are suffering what they must.”
Daniel O'Connell, elected from Clare, your people’s county to Westminster in 1828 would be proud of you.