Ravi Ragbir, director of the New Sanctuary Movement and one of New York’s best-known immigrant rights activists, was freed from pre-deportation detention with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) yesterday by a federal judge angry at what she called his “unnecessary” arrest.
Federal District Court Judge Katherine Forrest wrote in her decision that ICE’s arrest of Ragbir during a routine check-in earlier this month was the sort of “treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust.”
The judge said that she “notes with grave concern” the argument that Ragbir “has been targeted as a result of his speech and political advocacy on behalf of immigrants’ rights and social justice.” She said that she was concerned that ICE may have targeted him in a direct attack on the First Amendment. If expressing an opinion about immigration policy results in arrest by ICE, don’t expect immigrants to speak out.
Ragbir had been convicted of one count of wire fraud in the 1990s. After being jailed, he had lived without incident in the United States, marrying a U.S. citizen and fathering a U.S. citizen child. During both the Bush and Obama administrations, he had been allowed to remain free.
According to the judge, “After having spent nine years in this country without incident, reporting as required to immigration authorities and building a home, a family, and a community, on January 11, 2018, Ravidath Ragbir was suddenly taken into custody. He was informed that his time in this country was at an end, without further ado, without the freedom to say goodbye, he was taken away.”
The judge wrote that Ragbir’s arrest was “by all accounts unnecessary.” She said that it violated “fundamental rights that define who we are as a country.”
Judge Forrest acknowledged that Ragbir had an outstanding deportation order, but said that the government’s long acceptance of his continued stay in the United States and his compliance with the requirements previously set by ICE demanded that ICE “not pluck him out of his life without a moment’s notice.” She said that ICE’s actions were “unnecessarily cruel” in ordering his release.
Judge Forrest’s order freeing Ravi will not ensure that he is allowed to remain in the United States. Only the efforts of the community can keep him here. Contact Senator Chuck Schumer to demand that he work to prevent the deportation of Ravi Ragbir by calling his Melville office at 631-753-0978.
You can read the judge’s decision here.