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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Update on Ravi’s First Amendment Case

sealOn Wednesday, May 23rd, the Honorable Kevin Castel of the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York denied Mr. Ragbir and others’ request for a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent ICE from deporting Mr. Ragbir unless ICE could demonstrate that its actions were untainted by unlawful retaliation against Mr. Ragbir for exercising his First Amendment Rights to speak out against the injustices of our immigration system. Judge Castel’s ruling does not foreclose Mr. Ragbir and plaintiff organizations’ additional claims, which aim to vindicate the rights of immigrants who have been targeted by ICE on the basis of their protected speech regarding U.S. immigration law and policy. Judge Castel issued his ruling despite six amici briefs—including from faith leaders, several immigrant rights organizations, and local, state and federal elected officials–detailing the chilling effect that ICE’s targeting of immigrant activists has had on communities nationwide. Plaintiffs intend to appeal Judge Castel’s decision.

Ravi continues to have a stay of deportation pending the outcome of his case in the district court for the Federal District of New Jersey, where he seeks to vacate the underlying conviction which serves as the basis for his removal order because of fundamental errors that occurred during the original proceeding.

Federal District Court of New Jersey Grants Ravi Stay of Deportation Pending Decision on Case

District-Court-SealOn Friday, March 23rd, the Honorable Kevin McNulty of the Federal District Court of New Jersey granted Mr. Ragbir a stay of deportation pending the Court’s consideration of his underlying legal case, a “coram nobis petition” that challenges fundamental errors in his criminal conviction and sentence. In his order, Judge McNulty emphasized the importance of ensuring access to courts for immigrants in pending cases: “The power to stay removal pending decision of a coram nobis petition is constitutionally required, to the extent it is necessary to ensure due process and meaningful access to the courts.” Judge McNulty granted the stay, noting in part the “irreparable harm” Mr. Ragbir would suffer if deported before his case was fully considered.  Judge McNulty’s full opinion can be found here.

ICE Violating First Amendment by Targeting Immigrant Rights Advocates for Deportation, Legal Groups Say

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via Georgetown Law School:

In new brief, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University explain why deportation in retaliation for protected speech violates the First Amendment

The First Amendment prohibits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) recent practice of targeting immigrants in retaliation for exercising their right to free speech, including on immigration policy, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal court today. Continue reading