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Pablo Villavicencio, 35, a Hempstead resident and Ecuadorean immigrant here illegally, was detained last week after delivering pizza to a Brooklyn military base. As news of his situation spread, New York politicians weighed in as per their partisan leanings: a three-paragraph statement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo referencing Lady Liberty (plus a picture of Cuomo talking to Villavicencio’s wife by phone) and a three-tweet thread from Republican State Sen. Marty Golden, who represents this part of Brooklyn, praising base personnel for following through on visitor-access protocol.
The most high-stakes statement came from Rep. Dan Donovan of Staten Island, who also represents this sliver of Brooklyn and is facing a tough Republican primary challenge against former Congressman Michael Grimm, a felon.
Like Golden, Donovan noted support for military personnel who were just doing their jobs: “The law is the law.” But he also slammed “liberal activists” who are “attacking Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and military personnel for following the law in detaining an immigrant reportedly here illegally.”
He also managed to work in a reference to President Donald Trump, saying he supported $10 billion for the president’s border wall.
In the past, Donovan has penned a thoughtful co-bylined Washington Post op-edwith an immigration activist, as well as walking a fine line with Republican hard-liners while fending off legislation that would financially and materially hurt sanctuary cities like NYC. Donovan got the backing of Trump anyway, but recently has been signaling his farther-right bona fides while Grimm tries to position himself as the president’s true inheritor.
It’s part of what’s shaping up to be NYC’s hottest congressional primary, with recent NY1/Siena College polling suggesting Grimm is beating Donovan by 10 points among likely voters.