Immigration activist Ravi Ragbir released from detention, still fighting deportation

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Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the immigrant rights group New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City who was detained for more than two weeks has been released however, still faces potential deportation on Feb. 10, according to AMNewYork.

According to a Washington Post report, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest said it was unconstitutional and cruel for authorities to “pluck him out of his life without a moment’s notice” adding that he “should have been allowed ‘the freedom to say goodbye’ and to organize his affairs before being taken into custody.”

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away,” said Forrest, who read her seven-page opinion aloud in court.

“We are not that country and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it,” Forrest added.

On Jan. 11, Ragbir appeared for a regular check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a crackdown on undocumented immigrants was imposed by the Trump administration.

According to several sources, Ragbir came to the United States from Trinidad in 1991 and obtained a green card in 1994.

He was then convicted of wire fraud in 2001 and was detained in 2006 for nearly two years after a judge ordered deportation because of his conviction.

However, he was released as ICE determined that he wasn’t a danger to the community and he got married to Amy Gottileb in 2010 after which according to a Washington Post report, he received work authorization and four stays of removal.

The government’s court papers showed that he checked in regularly with ICE as required but eventually ran out of appeals and received a final order of deportation, according to a Washington Post report.

According to court documents, government attorneys said that they had obtained travel documents for Ragbir from the Consulate of Trinidad and Tobago at the beginning of the year which were valid through Jan. 14, but said that ICE had the final say over Ragbir’s status in the United States since he was already subject to a final removal order.

Though Ragbir and his lawyers believe that he was detained this month because of his advocacy, rather than his prior conviction and even though he wasn’t a threat to society and was brought to a detention center in Miami and only transferred to Orange County, New York, after his legal defense team challenged the move in court, according to AMNewYork.

But ICE denied that it targets individuals based on advocacy stating “any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate” and insist that Ragbir has “exhausted his petitions and appeals as he does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” according to the statement made by ICE.

Ragbir previously spoke out about the harsh comments that President Donald Trump made about immigrants targeting black and brown people.

“When he talks about immigrants . . . it’s about certain immigrants. We need to be defiant and to stop this crazy talk from this administration,” he told AMNewYork.

According to the New York Daily News report, Ragbir and his Gottileb were both invited to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

Gottlieb was invited by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) while Ragbir was invited by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) after she learned of his release.

The couple was “proud to be here to represent people who are struggling under our current immigration policies,” Gottlieb told the New York Daily News.

“We need to have laws to respect the dignity of every person and the humanity of every person. I am still reeling from all the things that happened in the last 18 days,” Ragbir told the New York Daily News adding that “federal officials under Trump have engaged in ‘psychological warfare’ by targeting him and other activists for detention and deportation.”

“It is unbelievable the resources they have used for one person, and the resources I assume they are using to target immigrants and leaders and advocates,” he added.

When Ragbir was released, Gottlieb told NBC New York that she was moved “by the judge’s powerful language about what it means to live in a democracy.”

“He’s (Trump) going to try to look presidential. The problem is not what he says tonight, the problem is what he will do tomorrow or the day after. One or two tweets will be the end of his advocacy for bipartisanship and collaboration,” she told the New York Daily News.

According to AMNewYork, early in his presidency, Trump issued an executive order which said that “ICE should prioritize deporting undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime” and as a result, ICE has made 143,470 arrests in the past fiscal year.

Ragbir told the New York Daily News that although his deportation has been ordered for Feb. 10, he will still continue to fight as he has at least one pending court appeal before then.

“The purpose of detention is to break your spirit; the fight is going to continue. This is something we will be ashamed of in years to come,” he told AMNewYork.

“Don’t do this alone,” he added, encouraging others who are facing deportation to not be ashamed or afraid to get help from others.

Ragbir has had support from his wife as well as the community, which is what got him through being detained.

According to AMNewYork, hundreds of people protested in Foley Square for Ragbir’s release immediately after he was arrested, which lead to the arrest of 18 people, including city councilmen Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez.

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