Statement: Velázquez, Crowley Call on ICE to End Targeting of Immigrant Activists

[Watch archived Facebook Live video from the press conference here.]


Photo by Murad Awawdeh

Members of Congress Demand Meeting with Trump Officials after Detainment of Ravi Ragbir, Community Leaders

(New York, New York) —Flanked by community leaders and immigration rights activists, Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and members of the New York City Congressional delegation called today for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to discuss the agency’s recent targeting of immigrant activists for detainment and deportation.

Outside of local ICE headquarters, the Members of Congress highlighted four cases of community leaders who were recently detained after speaking out against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.  This includes Ravi Ragbir, a prominent New York City activist, who was detained by ICE in January.

“Whether it stems from the culture at ICE or a policy directive, it’s clear the agency has a disturbing pattern of targeting those critical of the Trump Administration,” said Velázquez. “This practice is unconscionable and we intend to meet with these agencies to demand answers. In addition, I am inviting Ravi’s wife, Amy Gottlieb, to attend as my guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union. Her presence will send a powerful message of how this Administration’s policies harm immigrants and their families.”

“The Trump administration is continuing its reckless attacks against our immigrant communities and against those who raise their voice to protect our American ideals and values,” said Chairman Crowley. “This predatory behavior must stop.”

“Ravi and I are heartened to see the support we are receiving from our community and elected officials,” said Amy Gottlieb, Attorney and Associate Regional Director of The American Friends Service Committee, and the wife of Ravi Ragbir.  “We agree that he and others are targeted for expressing their objections to the harsh enforcement tactics of ICE but we believe we can change the course of these tactics toward a fair and humane immigration policy by continuing to raise awareness and organizing for change. It is my deepest hope that Ravi be released from detention and stay in the US so we can do this together.”

“I am alarmed, outraged, and quite frankly, frightened by reports that the Trump Administration has detained or deported Immigrant Advocacy leaders Ravi Ragbir, Jean Montrevil, Eliseo Jurado, and Maru Mora-Vilalpando,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).  “Time and again we were assured by this administration that deportation efforts would be aimed at violent, convicted criminals who posed imminent dangers to their neighbors. But these immigrant leaders aren’t dangers to their communities, quite the opposite. They devote their time to ensuring that their fellow immigrants have every opportunity to make better lives for themselves, here, in the country they love and call home. Targeting these individuals is harmful and dishonest. We are determined to hold this administration accountable for the un-American way they are treating those who come to this country. We deserve an explanation for this reckless roundup.”

“Mr. Ragbir is a family man with ties to the community who has consistently fought for the well-being of all immigrants. He has also contributed immensely to the local labor community and worked hard to protect his family. What happened to him is a disgrace and I stand in solidarity with him today,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

In a letter released at today’s event, the Members of Congress requested a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the head of ICE. The letter highlights four individual cases of recent detentions and deportations:

  • Ravi Ragbir, a green card holder for 12 years and Executive Director of the immigration reform group New Sanctuary Coalition. Ragbir is a constituent of Rep. Velázquez and is being detained by ICE. Velázquez has previously advocated for his release.
  • Jean Montrevil, a father of four U.S. citizens who was deported to Haiti on January 16th.  Montrevil co-founded the New Sanctuary Coalition with Ravi.
  • Eliseo Jurado, the husband of the immigrant rights activist Ingrid Encalada Latorre, was detained by ICE on January 11th while on his way to purchase groceries for his family.
  • Maru Mora-Villalpando, who leads the Northwest Detention Center Resistance (NWDCR), a Tacoma immigrant advocacy organization. Mora-Villalpando has been put in deportation proceedings by ICE.

The letter was signed by: Nydia M. Velázquez; Joe Crowley; Pramila Jayapal; José Serrano; Eliot Engel; Bonnie Watson Coleman; Adriano Espaillat; James P. McGovern; Zoe Lofgren; Juan Vargas; Adam Smith; Jerrold Nadler; Luis V. Gutiérrez; Yvette D. Clarke; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Darren Soto; Jan Schakowsky; Jimmy Gomez; Thomas R. Suozzi; Salud O. Carbajal; Gregory W. Meeks ; Judy Chu; Linda Sánchez; Rick Larsen; Jared Polis; Frank Pallone, Jr.; Carolyn B. Maloney; Grace Meng; Rep. Mark DeSaulnier; Hakeem Jeffries; and Nanette Diaz Barragán.

The letter is online here.