(CBS) — A New York judge who ordered an Ecuadorean immigrant who delivered pizza to an Army installation freed from an immigration detention camp said Wednesday that the government was applying its “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal entry in a “thoughtless and cruel” manner.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty explained in a written opinion why he ordered Pablo Villavicencio freed last week from a detention center in New Jersey.

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He also nullified a “supervised release” order Villavicencio was told to sign before he was freed that set special conditions he must follow.

In the opinion, Crotty took a swipe at the government’s decision to separate some children from their parents at the Mexican border and then transport the children to New York, saying he did not believe “this is accidental or random.”

Instead, he wrote, the government may be trying to break detainees’ connections to their support system of families and friends and frustrate their ability to retain competent legal representation and effectively participate in legal proceedings.

In Villavicencio’s case, the government tried to move the case to a New Jersey court.

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In a footnote, Crotty said the behavior reminded him that Thomas Jefferson cited in the Declaration of Independence how colonists were tried in “remote locations” to obstruct the laws for naturalization of foreigners.

“Immigration was even then a critical issue,” Crotty said.

Villavicencio, 35, who is married to a U.S. citizen with two young girls who also are citizens, is trying to establish legal residency. He was arrested and detained June 1 after delivering pizza to the Army garrison in Fort Hamilton.

 

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