Immigrant rights leader Ragbir to be returned to New York area

Immigrants right activist Ravi Ragbir, center, at immigration event in April 2017, outside of the Federal Building in Manhattan, New York.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Trinidad-born immigrants’ rights activist Ravi Ragbir — who was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials amid peaceful demonstrations in lower Manhattan on Jan. 11 and taken that same day to Krome Detention Facility in Miami, Fla. — will be returned to the New York area, where he will be held pending the outcome of his legal case, Immigration officials announced Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Ragbir was detained at the ICE field office at Foley Square after arriving for a routine check-in, sparking the demonstrations there and later outside the Varick Street Processing Center. More than 18 people, including New York City Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, were also arrested. Later that day, the activist was transported to the detention facility in Florida without notice to his family or his lawyers.

The same day he was detained, Ragbir’s attorneys at the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic filed a lawsuit challenging his detention and obtained a federal court order issuing a temporary stay of deportation and preventing the government from transferring him outside of the New York area pending consideration of his case. But ICE officials refused to bring him back, and a hearing was held on Tuesday, Jan. 16, to determine whether ICE must be ordered to comply with the decision.

At the hearing, the judge urged the government to consider returning Mr. Ragbir to a detention center closer to his family and counsel.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, counsel for ICE wrote to the court stating that they would exercise discretion to bring Ragbir back to the New York area. Another hearing on the lawfulness of detention is scheduled for the end of January.

“The last five days have been a nightmare for me,” said Ragbir’s wife, Amy Gottlieb.

The day after Martin Luther King Day, federal detainee Jean Montrevil — who had been flown to the Krome facility on Friday, Jan. 5 — was on a 7:43 am deportation flight to Haiti, a place he left at age 17. His lawyer has filed an appeal of that decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Ragbir is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, a faith-based coalition devoted to immigrant rights. He and Montrevil, a co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition, are among several immigrants’ rights leaders who have been targeted for deportation by ICE in recent days.

“We will call for action in our places of worship, in the streets, and in the courts until we receive justice for Ravi, Jean, and all others who face this inhumane system,” said New Sanctuary Coalition Co-Chair Rev. Kaji Dousa, senior pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church. “As people of faith, we must stand united against the targeting of our immigrants’ rights leaders.”

On Martin Luther King Day, The New Sanctuary Coalition held a Jericho Walk around Washington Square Park and planned to hold Jericho Walks at 26 Federal Plaza on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 11 am, and at 201 Varick St. at 5 pm, in support of justice for Ragbir, Montrevil and all immigrants.

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