Five Amicus Briefs Filed in Support of Ravi Ragbir and Immigrant Rights Groups

New York, NY —  In response to the targeting of immigrant rights activists by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, numerous faith leaders, religious institutions, elected officials, civic organizations, and legal scholars have filed legal briefs with a federal appeals court in Ragbir v. Homan to condemn the government’s violation of the First Amendment.

These amicus curiae (“friend of court”) briefs support plaintiffs Ravi Ragbir, the New Sanctuary Coalition, CASA, Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition.

The lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction restraining the government from taking further action to effectuate a deportation order against Mr. Ragbir, the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition and an outspoken advocate for immigrants’ and human rights.

There remains a case pending before the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, which also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction restraining the government from selectively enforcing immigration laws against individuals based on protected political speech.

The law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of over 60 faith leaders and 6 religious institutions and membership organizations; the firm of Covington & Burling LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of 35 local, state and federal elected officials; and the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis filed on behalf of 25 organizations from across the United States dedicated to organizing communities struggling with burdens imposed by immigration laws and policies.

Rutgers Law School International Human Rights Clinic filed an amicus brief on behalf of Emilio and Oscar Gutiérrez-Soto, political asylum seekers detained for nine months by ICE, and released only after a federal court in Texas found sufficient “temporal proximity” between amici’s political speech and ICE’s detention and attempted deportation of them.

In addition, First Amendment scholars at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center filed an amicus brief arguing that the use of deportation as a retaliatory tool against nonviolent activists, like Mr. Ragbir, is outrageous and the kind of conduct that the U.S. typically condemns.

Oral argument in the case has been set in the Second Circuit, located at 40 Foley Square, for October 29, 2018. Plaintiffs encourage members of the community to attend. For more information and updates, please visit istandwithravi.org.

Update in Ravi’s Case: Report Date Rescheduled for October 12

Ravi had been scheduled to report to ICE on September 7th. His report date has been postponed until October 12th at 10:00 a.m. Please mark this date on your calendars.

In the meantime, we are continuing to fight against ICE’s cruel and unjust practices. In the lawsuit challenging ICE’s retaliation against Ravi and other activists, Ravi and several immigrant rights organizations filed their opening brief to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit arguing why the federal court should restrain ICE from retaliatory enforcement against Ravi for engaging in political speech critical to American democracy.

We anticipate that a hearing in this case will be scheduled in the near future, and will update you accordingly.

While we continue our fight in the courts, we know that it is the power of community support that will keep Ravi here and shed light on the injustice of ICE’s efforts to detain and deport people in darkness.

We urge you to stay vigilant, and will be in touch shortly with upcoming actions to support Ravi and others.

In the meantime, please also save the date for the New Sanctuary Gala, to be held on Thursday, November 8, 2018. Get your tickets here.

Legal Update: Ravi and Immigrant Rights Organizations File Opening Appeal Brief

On Friday, August 31, 2018, Ravi and immigrant rights organizations (the “Appellants”) filed the opening brief in Ragbir et al., v. Homan et al., the First Amendment lawsuit now before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In the brief, Appellants argue that the federal district court hearing the case wrongly denied their request for a preliminary injunction, which asked the federal court to restrain ICE from deporting Ravi in retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights.

The brief highlights the escalation of ICE’s retaliatory tactics–denying New Sanctuary Coalition’s access to public spaces, surveilling its headquarters, abruptly arresting and deporting one of its co-founders, and arresting and attempting to deport Ravi himself. It also highlights First Amendment retaliation against immigrant rights leaders throughout the country. Briefing in the case will end in early October and the parties anticipate oral argument in the case shortly thereafter.

First Amendment Case Update

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Photo by Erik McGregor

On August 14, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard oral argument in Ragbir v. Homan, the First Amendment case filed by Ravi and immigrant rights groups, CASA, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, New York Immigration Coalition and New Sanctuary Coalition (the “plaintiffs”).

William Perdue of Arnold & Porter deftly argued before a packed courthouse that Ravi and the New Sanctuary Coalition should receive a stay of deportation. Perdue stated that there is strong evidence that the government retaliated against Ravi because he has been outspoken about the injustices of our current immigration system and he, the New Sanctuary Coalition, and the community have exposed ICE’s cruel and unjust practices.

Despite overwhelming evidence of retaliation, the government, represented by Steven Kochevar, emphasized that it should have the power to immediately arrest, detain and deport someone–like Ravi–with a final order of deportation. The government also could not promise the Court that it would not arrest, detain and deport Ravi if his current stay of deportation ends.

At the end of the hearing, over a hundred supporters of Ravi and the First Amendment held a press conference and rally in Foley Square, which culminated in a recitation of the First Amendment in English and Spanish, led by Ravi and renowned immigrant and reproductive rights activist, Alejandra Pablos.

THE COURT’S DECISION

On Tuesday, August 15, the Court issued an order in the case. The Court did not issue a decision on whether to grant Ravi a stay of deportation pending an appeal in the case. Instead, the Court asked that Ravi update it immediately if the stay of deportation from the federal court in New Jersey ends.

The Court also decided to expedite the plaintiffs’ appeal and stated that it will schedule oral argument in the case.

Please be on the lookout for an oral argument date in the coming months.

RAVI’S NEXT REPORT DATE

Currently, Ravi is scheduled to report to ICE for deportation on September 7, 2018. However, because there is a stay of deportation currently in place, that report date may be rescheduled. But we will always be prepared. Please look out for updates & information about actions on September 7th.

Thank you for all of your continued support as we stand up on behalf of the First Amendment rights of all our community members. We are truly grateful.

Press Advisory: Immigrants Stand Up for Their First Amendment Rights As Federal Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Ragbir v. Homan

courthouseWhen and Where:  Tuesday, August 14, 2018

  • 10:00 a.m. Hearing at Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, Manhattan, NY (observers are encouraged to arrive at at 9:00 a.m. to get through security.)
  • 11:00 a.m. Press Conference and Rally at Foley Square, Manhattan, NY, near 26 Federal Plaza

New York, NY: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear oral arguments in Ragbir v. Homan, a First Amendment lawsuit filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for its use of deportation and enforcement measures to “disappear” or silence its critics, namely directly-affected immigrant leaders who speak out against the agency’s policies and the deportation machine. The lawsuit was filed by nationally recognized immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir, along with immigrant rights organizations New Sanctuary Coalition, CASA, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition (the “plaintiffs”).

Ragbir v. Homan challenges the unlawful targeting of immigrant rights activists who have spoken out against the federal government’s immigration policies. As part of that lawsuit, plaintiffs sought a “stay of removal” for Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition , who was abruptly targeted for deportation in January 2018 a decade after he was given an order of supervision to live and work in the U.S.  Mr. Ragbir is one of many outspoken immigrant rights leaders who has been similarly targeted nationwide. A district court denied the plaintiffs the initial protections they sought, including a stay for Mr. Ragbir, concluding that it did not have the power to review the government’s actions. The plaintiffs appealed and now seek a motion for a stay of Mr. Ragbir’s removal from the appellate court.

Community members are invited to listen and observe the plaintiffs’ co-counsel, Arnold & Porter, argue before the Second Circuit why the Court should grant Mr. Ragbir a stay of deportation until ICE can prove that its attempt to deport Mr. Ragbir was not in retaliation for his free speech.  

Following the hearing, immigrant rights leaders, activists, and prominent First Amendment lawyers will denounce the federal government’s attempts to deny immigrants access to federal courts and their first amendment protections. Speakers will include Ravi Ragbir, immigrant and reproductive rights activist Alejandra Pablos, the National Lawyers’ Guild National Immigration Project, the New York Immigration Coalition, and more. Under the U.S. Constitution, everyone in the United States–regardless of immigration status–is entitled to First Amendment rights.

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Watch: Abolish ICE, Abolish Borders

On January 11, 2018, immigrants rights activist Ravi Ragbir was detained by ICE during a routine check in. Organizing and legal advocacy led to him winning his freedom 18 days later. Ravi Ragbir is the ED of the New Sanctuary Coalition, which organizes and fights alongside families and communities resisting caging and deportation. He still faces deportation.