Federal Judge Stays Deportation Of Xiu Qing You; Legal Aid Attorneys Also Secure Mr. You’s Release From ICE Detention

The Legal Aid Society this afternoon won an emergency stay motion temporarily preventing the deportation of Xiu Qing You, pending resolution of his petition for habeas corpus. The Court also ordered Mr. You’s immediate release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. Mr. You has been detained at Bergen County Correctional Facility since May 23, 2018. United States District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York heard the arguments and granted the stay.

The Legal Aid Society joined Yee Ling Poon, Esq. as co-counsel this past week to represent Mr. You, and led on today’s request for a stay of removal and immediate release.

The New York Daily News first reported on Mr. You’s detention last Friday. You, 39, has lived in Flushing, Queens since coming to the United States in 2000 to escape religious persecution. He runs a nail salon in Connecticut with his wife, a U.S. citizen; is a father to two young children; and has no criminal record.

Mr. You was detained by ICE at a mandatory interview for a green card that was petitioned by his wife.

Gregory Copeland, Sarah Gillman, and Katherine Buckel from The Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit represented Mr. You on the habeas motion.

“Today’s ruling is a sharp rebuke of ICE’s cruel and fanatical crusade to circumvent due process with the goal of tearing families apart,” said Gregory Copeland, Supervising Attorney in the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “Mr. You has lived without incident in this country for years, establishing a family and building a successful small business. Taking that away from him is the antithesis of what America should aspire to stand for. This decision should also provide hope for other immigrants that the judicial branch remains a bulwark against inhumane treatment.”


Villavicencio Family, Advocates & Elected Officials Call On ICE To Release Pablo Villavicencio From Detention

  Sandra Chica, Pablo Villavicencio's wife, pleads for ICE to release her husband.

Sandra Chica, Pablo Villavicencio's wife, pleads for ICE to release her husband.

The Legal Aid Society Submits
Formal Detention Release Request To Ice

The Legal Aid Society; Sandra Chica, wife of Pablo Villavicencio, and their children; New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Justin Brannan; members from Make The Road New York; and others gathered out front of the Jacob Javits Federal Building today demanding the release of Pablo Villavicencio from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) custody.

“Spending Father’s Day without my husband was unbelievably painful for me and my daughters,” said Sandra Chica, wife of Pablo Villavicencio. “Pablo’s detention is punishment that our entire family feels. We call on ICE to do the right thing and let him come home immediately.”

Last Saturday, a federal court judge temporarily stayed Mr. Villavicencio’s deportation to Ecuador. However, Mr. Villavicencio is still in ICE custody at Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey.

“Pablo’s continued detention is cruel and unjust, and it has caused incredible punitive hardship for the Villavicencio family,” said Jennifer Williams, Deputy Attorney-In-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “His release is not only an issue of morals but one rooted in the law. The Legal Aid Society stands with the Villavicencio family and many others calling on ICE to release Pablo immediately.”

“Our community stands with Sandra and her children in demanding Pablo’s immediate release,” said Antonio Alarcon, immigration youth organizer with Make the Road New York. “Pablo belongs at home with his children, not locked in a cage by an out-of-control agency that just wants to tear apart our families. We will not rest until Pablo is free.”


Council Member Carlos Menchaca with Legal Aid attorney Jennifer Williams

The Legal Aid Society submitted a formal request to ICE demanding Pablo’s release. The request argues:

  • Humanitarian factors warrant Mr. Villavicencio’s release including the significant emotional and financial hardship to his U.S. citizen wife and minor U.S. citizen daughters, his youngest daughter’s delicate medical conditions, his long-time residence in the United States, community ties, employment history, and tremendous community support, including from the highest elected officials of the City of New York demonstrate that Pablo is not a flight risk.
  • Mr. Villavicencio has no criminal history, and is in no way a threat to public safety or national security.
  • Mr. Villavicencio’s detention pending the resolution of his federal court claims, and investigations into the circumstances surrounding his detention, is unsupported law, and violates ICE’s own regulations.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is co-counsel with The Legal Aid Society in representing Mr. Villavicencio.

“Pablo is a contributing member of our great city. He provides for his family and takes care of his community. He has delivered pizzas to the Fort Hamilton Army Base multiple times with no incident. Detaining him obviously did not make us safer. On the contrary, it robbed a family of its breadwinner, placing their lives in unnecessary peril, and thereby showcasing how arbitrary and senseless our immigration system has become. The courts agree, which is why they issued a stay of deportation last week. However, only Pablo’s immediate release can correct for this injustice and we will not stop fighting until this happens,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

Legal Aid Statement on Trump Administration Announcement to End Policy of Separating Families at Border

Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society, released the following statement today responding to President Donald Trump’s announcement that his Administration will terminate the policy of separating immigrant families who cross into the United States at the Mexican border:

“After spending several days attempting to justify the unjustifiable, the President has at last ended his reprehensible practice of separating families and inflicting trauma on children and parents seeking asylum. This practice runs contrary to the values and principles that America has long stood for, and it has eroded our moral standing throughout the world.

The President must immediately prioritize reuniting the thousands of children scattered around the country who were abruptly separated from their parents at the border. But we call on him to go further and to rein in his Attorney General, who is recklessly waging his own war on immigrants by undermining decades of settled immigration law and policy. And we call on Congress to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform, including a clean DREAM Act as well as measures to provide pathways to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for undocumented individuals.”

APNews: Lawyers, family seek release of detained pizza deliveryman


The family and attorneys of an Ecuadorean pizza shop worker who was arrested while trying to make a delivery submitted a formal request to immigration officials Monday demanding his immediate release.

Attorneys from the Legal Aid Society, accompanied by Pablo Villavicencio’s wife and two small daughters, said at a news conference that they filed the petition Monday.

The request argues that Villavicencio’s detention causes significant emotional and financial hardship to his U.S. citizen wife and daughters and that the immigrant has no criminal history and is not a threat to public safety.

Jennifer Williams, deputy attorney in charge of the immigration law unit at the Legal Aid Society, also said that her client’s detention is “unwarranted” until the circumstances surrounding his arrest are clear.

The 35-year-old married father of two young girls was arrested June 1 while making a delivery to the garrison in Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. A routine background check revealed there was a warrant for his arrest for immigration law violations.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the deportation of Villavicencio, but he will remain in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Jersey until his case goes to court.

On Monday, Villavicencio’s wife, Sandra Chica, stood next to his two daughters, ages 2 and 3, and pleaded for the release of her husband.

“Let him go back to his daughters and me,” she said in front of the cameras. “Every day my daughters ask, ‘Why is daddy not with us?’ I demand ICE to do the right thing.”

The 3-year-old girl, Luciana Villavicencio, spoke at the news conference, saying: “Daddy, I hope that angels take care of you and that you are well and that nothing bad happens over there.”

An ICE spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson described Villavicencio’s arrest as a “grave injustice.”

“I am outraged, outraged, that the reason (daughters) Luciana and Antonia are feeling this loss is because of our government,” Johnson said. “As an American, my heart breaks.”

An ICE spokesperson has said that in March 2010 Villavicencio was granted voluntary departure by an immigration judge but failed to depart by July, as ordered.

Legal Aid Challenges NYC Department of Education Proposed Settlement on Bullying Policy

The Legal Aid Society filed objections in federal court to a proposed class action settlement in John Doe #1, et al. v. N.Y.C. Department of Education (DOE). The lawsuit seeks to address bullying in the public schools in New York City, but the settlement falls drastically short of what is truly needed.

“New York City’s children deserve a comprehensive plan to reduce school bullying and improve school climate,” said Cara Chambers, Director of the Kathryn A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project at The Legal Aid Society. “This settlement fails to provide necessary resources and does not address the underlying causes of bullying, including trauma and mental health issues. It’s a bad deal for New York City youth, and the court should reject the proposed settlement.”

The proposed settlement fails to incorporate the explicit recommendations of the City’s own Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline calling for increased resources for all affected students and staff training designed to reduce bullying behaviors. Instead, it focuses primarily on mandating timely complaint notifications and investigation.

While a step in the right direction, it would not address or reduce the behaviors underlying bullying incidents, and it does not provide benchmarks to allow for effective monitoring of the settlement requirements. The proposed settlement offers limited benefit to students beyond what is already required by law or regulation. Instead, it insulates the DOE from future legal action demanding the implementation of necessary reforms to improve school culture, provide student supports and develop alternative methods to address conflict.

The Legal Aid Society, represented by Cooley LLP, filed the objections with a request to be heard at the fairness hearing on the proposed settlement before Judge Nicholas Garaufis on June 26, 2018.

The Legal Aid Society has significant experience in educational advocacy, having represented more than 250,000 school-aged children and youth over the past decade in its Juvenile, Civil, and Criminal Practices. These students, many of whom have trauma histories, are most likely to be involved in bullying incidents. The Legal Aid Society hopes to contribute its expertise and insight to a proposed settlement that comprehensively addresses the issue of bullying in New York City’s schools.

NY1: Wife of deliveryman facing deportation pleads for his release

The wife of a pizza deliveryman who is facing deportation has made an emotional plea for his release.

Sandra Chica made the plea in a video.

She said her two young daughters miss their dad and need him to come home.

Pablo Villavicencio was detained by immigration officials on June 1 after delivering pizza to the Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn.

He had ignored an early deportation order and was supposed to be deported to Ecuador this week, but a federal judge granted an emergency stay.

Lawyers with the Legal Aid Society say they're hopeful he might stay permanently. 

"Nothing is easy, but I couldn't do this job if I didn't have hope and belief in our justice system, in the will of the American people," said Jennifer Williams, deputy attorney with the Legal Aid Society. "And with the amount of attention that Pablo has been getting, I really trust that ICE will do the right thing in this case."

Villavicencio is currently being held at a facility in Hudson County, New Jersey.

The Observer: NYPD Faces Scrutiny Over How It Determines Who Is a Gang Member


The NYPD is facing increasing backlash over a lack of transparency about the process by which it determines who is included in its gang database, as well as its gang policing tactics amid concerns over inaccurate labeling of youth—especially youth of color—as gang members based on vague criteria.

Groups such as the Coalition to End Broken Windows and the Legal Aid Society, which has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over its gang database standards, have pointed to the NYPD’s reliance on “large-scale military style gang raids” to crack down on violent crime in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.

The Intercept recently reported that the NYPD’s gang database expanded by 70 percent under Mayor Bill de Blasio, with New Yorkers being added to the database at a rate of 342 people a month—close to three times the rate of the previous decade.

At a City Council hearing on Wednesday morning, Queens Councilman Donovan Richards, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, praised the NYPD’s work to combat gang-related crime and gang violence, referring to the NYPD’s “precision policing” method—which focuses on criminals—and neighborhood policing, which pairs community officers with neighborhood residents.

But he argued that it’s unfair to incriminate people simply because they were wearing the wrong color, living in a “bad area” or were hanging out with their friends “on the wrong corner.” He also pointed to the dangers of increased police surveillance of young people.

“Simply being labeled a gang member can have serious consequences,” Richards said. “Immigration authorities use the label to justify deportation. Prosecutors use it to ask for higher bail and to keep people on Rikers Island before they have been convicted. Judges consider it when imposing sentences, even for nonviolent offenses.”

He argued that the risk of such consequences being thrust upon innocent individuals is “too great” when information about how and why people are labeled gang members is withheld from the public.

“The public has a right to know which communities are being scrutinized and why,” Richards continued. “Citizens have a right to know how their lawful conduct can result in unwanted attention from the authorities.”

Dermot Shea, the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, said that of the 798 shootings last year, 393—or 50 percent—involved a gang member as either the victim or the perpetrator, which the NYPD refers to as “gang-related.” Since 2016, Shea said, the NYPD has conducted roughly 100 long-term gang investigations, resulting in 1,259 arrests.

The NYPD, he explained, works closely with federal and state law enforcement partners and prosecutors and uses investigative techniques such as surveillance, undercover officers, reviewing financial transactions and wiretapping phones.

There are two paths by which individuals can be added to the Criminal Group Database. The first path requires that one of the following take place: a self-admission of gang membership to a member of the NYPD, being identified as a gang member by two “independent and reliable sources” or social media posts admitting to membership in a gang.

The second path, Shea explained, requires two of the following to be true: frequent presence at a known gang location; possession of “gang-related documents”; association with known gang members; social media posts with known gang members while possessing known gang paraphernalia; scars and tattoos associated with a particular gang; frequent wearing of the colors and frequent use of hand signs linked to specific gangs.

“It is not enough for a person to be in a gang location, or to flash hand signs, or to wear gang colors on a certain day,” he maintained.

He noted that each of the more than 34,000 people who were in the NYPD’s database were individually reviewed under the criteria as the police department constructed a new database to replace the existing one. As a result of that process, the database now has roughly 17,600 people—nearly half of where it once stood in 2014—and just over 500 different criminal groups entered.

“Our goal is to make sure that everyone who is in the database is actually a gang member,” Shea added. “We are in the era of precision policing. Saturating the database with non-gang members limits its usefulness.”

Only a precinct field intelligent officer, a gang detective or an investigator in the Social Media Analysis and Research Team can recommend that an individual be entered into the database, with the recommendation being reviewed by a supervisor in the Gang Squad.

The NYPD also created three avenues to exit the database, reviewing each person every three years and on their 23rd and 28th birthdays to determine if their actions and records still merit inclusion in the database.

The database has 17 people who are 13 years old—the youngest people in the database. The average age is 26 and less than 2.5 percent of the people in the database are under the age of 18. And 95 percent of the NYPD’s gang database are people of color.

In the last four years, Shea said, the NYPD has taken out more than 3,700 entries from the database. Once a person is taken out of the database, he said, the fact that they were once affiliated with a gang is “permanently hidden from the database.”

Shea insisted that only NYPD personnel can access the information and that it is not shared with NYCHA, employers conducting background checks or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—and that it does not show up on individuals’ criminal history or rap sheet when they are fingerprinted.

He noted that 90 percent of gang members have been arrested for at least one felony, 75 percent for at least one index crime and 50 percent for at least one robbery. The average person in the database has been arrested 11 times—five of which are for felonies. And gang members, he added, are responsible for the murders of more than 500 people and have been arrested for nearly 18,000 robberies.

“Stricter inclusion protocols and routine auditing and expungement have dramatically reduced this database over the last five years,” Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a mayoral spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This increased precision has played an important role in the NYPD’s successful efforts to combat the gangs at the center of our city’s violence.”

Marne Lenox, assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), said the NYPD’s “aggressive, military-style gang takedowns” primarily target public housing residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are people of color.

“While a small number of people arrested in gang takedowns are believed to have committed violent or otherwise serious offenses, most are accused of only low-level misconduct,” Lenox said. “Yet prosecutors rely on conspiracy statutes to demonize those who commit petty offenses by implicating them in violent crimes, making it all but impossible to fight their charges at trial.”

She gave the example of Patrick Littlejohn, who was arrested along with over 100 other individuals as part of an April 2016 raid of the Eastchester Gardens NYCHA development in the Bronx where he had lived his entire life.

He was unlawfully arrested for trespassing in his development while visiting a neighbor who was with him at the time of the arrest, she explained. The U.S. Attorney’s office agreed not to prosecute him after six months of good behavior, but he lost his job as an after-school basketball coach and tutor.

LDF and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) served the NYPD with two Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests seeking records on its gang policing tactics, but the NYPD refused to disclose the vast majority of the records.

Brooklyn Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, the Council’s Majority Leader, said the database should be utilized to connect young people to resources such as summer youth employment.

“Obviously, these are entrepreneurial individuals who have some talents and some skill sets to do something,” she said, calling for putting more resources into their hands. “This city just increased the amount of summer youth employment… from 28,000 to 75,000.

City & State: NYPD Faces Scrutiny Over How It Determines Who Is a Gang Member

The New York City Police Department has a list of 17,441 New Yorkers it thinks are gang-affiliated, but it used to be twice as long. That was one of the revelationsfrom NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, who testified before the New York City Council’s Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

It was the first time Shea was made to publicly shine light on the so-called gang database, according to New York City Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the committee. The list has recently come under criticism for putting suspects on it too easily and leaving them there for too long. But Shea defended the program at City Hall Wednesday, and in a Tuesday op-ed for the Daily News, as an important crime fighting tool. The NYPD has previously credited large-scale gang takedowns as a reason that New York City’s violent crime rate is at its lowest point in more than 50 years.

Richards worries the gang database has been shrouded in secrecy. “There are close to 18,000 people on this database and there’s not transparency or a process to know if you’re in the database,” he told City & State after the hearing.

The Criminal Group Database has been criticized by civil rights activists, who say it disproportionately targets African-American and Latino youth. Advocates protested outside police headquarters last October calling it a successor to the much-maligned practice of stop-and-frisk. Earlier this year, the Legal Aid Society led a campaign encouraging New Yorkers to file Freedom of Information Law requests to find out if they’re in the database. The groups sent a letter to Richards in February encouraging him to hold a public hearing on the issue.

On Monday, the left-wing website The Intercept reported that the database had swelled under Mayor Bill de Blasio. Shea countered the story’s claims at Wednesday’s hearing, saying that the department had cleared nearly half the names from the database after a four-year review. It was not immediately clear if NYPD detectives still had access to the names that used to be on the list.

Richards praised the NYPD for arresting violent offenders, but said he feared the inclusion of innocent New Yorker’s names in the database, thinking it could lead to surveillance, or wrongful arrest during large-scale “gang takedowns.”

Richards hopes to work with the NYPD to craft legislation that could bring more transparency to the database. Laws regarding the NYPD are often contentious – the Right to Know Act, which increased transparency in arrests, was debated for years and narrowly passed in December 2017. But Richards said NYPD leaders suggested they would be open to a new law.

“The main goal is to make sure that innocent people aren’t in this database,” Richards said.

NY1 Noticias: Esposa de repartidor de pizzas detenido por ICE pide 'de corazón' que lo liberen

La esposa del inmigrante repartidor de pizzas que está detenido por ICE y de quien un juez suspendió temporalmente su deportación, ha pedido a ICE ‘de corazón’ y en nombre de sus hijas  ‘que por favor lo liberen inmediatamente’.

“Mis hijas necesitan (a) su papá. Han sufrido mucho por la ausencia de él estos días”, dijo Sandra Chica en un video puesto como un mensaje de twitter por la organización The Legal Aid Society –los abogados que le han ayudado en la pelea legal con ICE. (Villavicencio y Chica tienen dos hijas de 3 y 2 años).

Pablo Villavicencio fue detenido hace más de una semana cuando fue a entregar una orden de pizzas a una base militar en Brooklyn. Más tarde fue entregado por la policia militar a agentes de ICE. Según ICE, debido a que ya existía una orden de deportacion en su contra Villavicencio podría haber ser deportado en cualquier momento.

Todo esto cambio cuando el sábado pasado una juez federal ordenó –ante una petición urgente de los abogados de Villavicencio y Chica- que no lo deportaran hasta en tanto no haya una audiencia judicial sobre su caso. Villavicencio sin embargo, sigue detenido.

Además del pedido a ICE de que liberen a su esposo, Chica dio las gracias a todas las personas, dijo, que han ayudado en el caso de su esposo –tanto líderes políticos, como abogados, organizaciones defensoras de los inmigrantes, medios de comunicación y gente común.

“Estas dos últimas semanas han sido muy difíciles, desde que mi esposo fue detenido por ICE cuando él estaba hacienda su trabajo común y corriente”, revela Chica en el video.

 “Este tiempo sin Pablo en la casa ha sido de mucha incertidumbre y angustia”, agregó Chica. “Sigue la tristeza de que él sigue detenido”.

“Ahora viene lo más duro”, dijo Chica. “Les pido que no nos dejen solos. Que sigamos en esta lucha para permitir que Pablo regrese nuevamente a casa”.