PRESS RELEASE: Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir Receives Three-Year Deferred Action After Reaching Settlement on First Amendment Suit Challenging ICE Retaliation

For Immediate Release: February 24, 2022

Press Release: Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir Receives Three-Year Deferred Action After Reaching Settlement on First Amendment Suit Challenging ICE Retaliation

February 24, 2022 — Three years after prominent activist Ravi Ragbir and immigrant rights organizations New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, CASA, Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition filed suit to challenge the targeting of immigrant rights activists by federal immigration officials, the parties have settled the suit and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has agreed to grant Mr. Ragbir three years of deferred action in the United States. 

“For all of these years my family, friends, and community were worried that I would be targeted by ICE because of my outspokenness. They were right—my public challenges to the system led them to retaliate against me,” said Mr. Ragbir. “This victory is a testimony to the power of the community working together to stand up against ICE and an oppressive policy, to support human rights and dignity for all. I am celebrating this step towards victory, but knowing that this is not the end, and that we must continue in the struggle to end deportation. I want to recognize my privilege of having the smartest and best attorneys representing me, Stanton Jones and William Perdue from the firm Arnold and Porter and Alina Das and Jessica Rofé and the students from the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic.”

This period of deferred action also gives Mr. Ragbir a chance to pursue other legal remedies in order to gain permanent immigration relief in the United States.

“Ravi and I are deeply grateful to our brilliant legal team, our loving families and friends, and to everyone in our community who have stood with us during these years of struggle and who made it possible for us to have this moment to celebrate,” said Amy Gottlieb, wife of Mr. Ragbir and Associate Regional Director of American Friends Service Committee. “Three years to breathe free as we work toward a permanent solution is a wonderful holiday gift.”

“I am very pleased that after a long struggle Ravi has finally been granted deferred action,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “I have long advocated on behalf of Ravi, he is a passionate leader and immigration activist. Today’s settlement affirms that ICE cannot target someone for deportation simply for speaking out and exercising their 1st Amendment protected rights.”

The lawsuit was supported by numerous faith leaders, immigrant rights organizations, elected officials, activists, and others who spoke out on behalf of protecting immigrants’ First Amendment rights. 

“Finally, some good news after more than a year of hardship and tragedy,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “Ravi Ragbir is one of our movement’s most outspoken critics of ICE and has paid the consequences of that outspokenness when he was detained and threatened with deportation to a country that he hadn’t lived in for years. Today, Ravi and his family will finally be able to breathe a sigh of temporary relief thanks to the government’s agreement to allow him three years of deferred action. This isn’t the permanent legal status that we hoped for him and the millions of others just like Ravi, who have been struggling to attain a pathway to citizenship. But it’s something. In the meantime, the NYIC will continue to fight for permanent legal protections for the hundreds of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers who continue to live in the shadows while dreaming and hoping for this country to recognize them as the Americans they already are.”

“Ravi has been a strong advocate and leader in the fight to have a truly just immigration system,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “I’m proud to have supported and advocated for Ravi during this difficult journey. It has been a long road and I’m grateful to all who protested and showed up for Ravi throughout the years. These three years of deferred action gives everyone involved a chance to breathe, and while we celebrate this huge victory, we must remember that this is not the end of the fight.”

In February 2018, Mr. Ragbir and immigrant rights organizations filed suit against federal immigration agencies because of the targeting that Mr. Ragbir experienced as a result of his outspoken activism against U.S. immigration policies. On January 11, 2018, he was abruptly detained by ICE after years of routine check-ins. ICE’s decision to detain Mr. Ragbir came at the heels of its similarly abrupt arrest and detention of Jean Montrevil, a co-founder of New Sanctuary Coalition, that same month. ICE deported Mr. Montrevil and attempted to do the same to Mr. Ragbir before a federal court ordered his release. Through their actions, ICE officials made clear their resentment of Mr. Ragbir’s and Mr. Montrevil’s activism and critique of the numerous flaws of the U.S. immigration system. 

“ICE targeted Ravi for speaking out against the cruel injustices of our immigration system, thereby putting him into a yearslong fight to remain with his family and community. While we are grateful that Ravi will be able to live without fear of deportation for 3 years, we are also committed to finding a permanent solution to his case and all others like him. As we work to make our vision of a humane and compassionate immigration system a reality, it is clear that we need bold and courageous allies like Ravi by our side,” said Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project.

“Ravi’s story is a testament to the unimaginable courage it requires to speak out against injustice. And this three-year reprieve is a testament to the power of community to end the harms of retaliation. We are grateful for this respite. But so long as Ravi, and countless others, remain in legal limbo, we know they are not truly safe,” said Jessica Rofé of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and one of Ravi Ragbir’s lawyers. “We hope the next three years will lead to permanent immigration relief for Ravi and others, whose advocacy and activism reflect the bedrock of American democratic principles.”

Even after Mr. Ragbir’s release from detention in January 2018, ICE continued to pursue Mr. Ragbir’s deportation, prompting the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, CASA, Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition to join Mr. Ragbir in filing suit (Ragbir v. Homan) to challenge the targeting of immigrant rights activists by federal immigration officials. The suit alleged that the specific actions against Mr. Ragbir, along with similar retaliatory actions against activists across the country, were part of a pattern and practice of unlawful targeting in violation of the First Amendment. 

The district court denied Mr. Ragbir’s motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the claims challenging his deportation under the First Amendment. On appeal, the Second Circuit vacated that decision, concluding that the alleged retaliatory deportation by ICE was sufficiently “outrageous” to violate the First Amendment, and that the Constitution requires judicial review of these claims. However, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Second Circuit on jurisdictional grounds, questioning whether federal courts have jurisdiction to hear such First Amendment claims. The case was eventually sent back to the Southern District of New York to litigate these jurisdictional issues before the parties officially settled the case. 

“This is a victory not just for Ravi, but for immigrants, for their communities, and for the First Amendment,” said William Perdue of Arnold & Porter.  “Ravi has had the courage to fight for a fair and humane immigration system, and his case stands as a warning to ICE and public officials of all kinds that they cannot abuse their powers by retaliating against those who speak out against them.  Ravi’s relentless advocacy is an inspiration, and his settlement reaffirms that if the First Amendment means anything, it means being free to criticize the government without fear of reprisal.”

“Detention Watch Network is thrilled to hear that long time member, Ravi Ragbir, has been granted deferred action and will have a respite from years of facing deportation including some in immigration detention and on an electronic monitor,” said Silky Shah, Executive Director of the Detention Watch Network. “Ravi is a tireless and selfless defender of freedom not just for himself, but for all immigrants. Congratulations to Ravi and the team that supported him on this important movement victory!”

“For years, communities of faith around the country have been praying for this relief. Why? Because we need Ravi. Because Ravi leads us in doing God’s work. I expect this to be but the first step in our collective gratitude and recognition for Ravi’s crucial work. And so we continue,” shared Reverend Kaji Dousa, Senior Minister and C.E.O. of Park Avenue Christian Church.
“Ravi has fearlessly spoken out against the injustice of detention and deportation. He should never have been targeted for his activism. We are thrilled that he has been granted deferred action. We need his voice in the movement now more than ever,” said Alina Das of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and one of Ravi Ragbir’s lawyers.

An Update on My First Amendment Case

I have “good news” to share with you. The Government has agreed not to deport me for the next three years, as part of a settlement agreement in my First Amendment lawsuit. That gives us three more years to pursue other forms of relief that I need to be able to remain in the US permanently.  You can read more in The Intercept here. We have a lot of work to do, but I know that in community we can get there.  

Over the years, Amy and I have experienced so many excruciating moments in our interactions with ICE that we thought we were numb. In fact, when I was released from detention in 2018 I was back to work the next day.  So when a friend recently asked Amy how we were going to commemorate that Jan 11, 2022 was four years since ICE tried to deport me in 2018, Amy, my defense committee and I were taken aback. Jan 11 2018 and the days that followed were intense and very traumatic for all of us. I thought that I was unfazed because I had lived through so many such days with ICE. I was even making bad jokes with ICE officers who were there to make sure that I was deported.

But when Amy was describing what happened on that day I watched myself break down. My eyes teared up, my pain exuded from my pores and entered my nose, suffocating me. I could not stop trembling. I am not the only one who suffers from this type of PTSD. This happens to every Friend/person, their loved ones and their communities who have to live with the threat of deportation. 

Now we are deeply relieved to have this breathing time, and to know that 2022 is the first year that I will not have to report to ICE at all. I will have to report in 2023 and 2024, and will of course seek your support when that happens.

I know that this ‘victory’ is due to all of the love and support that you, my community, have provided.  I look forward to being able to be together sometime soon.

With gratitude and love,

Press Release: Legal Experts Urge Biden Administration to Protect Immigrants’ First Amendment Rights

New Complaint Describes Widespread Practice of Retaliation Against Immigrant Activists

July 19, 2021 — The Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law (“NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic) and the Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic (“Cornell First Amendment Clinic”) filed a joint complaint with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (OCRCL) alleging a widespread pattern of retaliation by federal immigration officials against immigrant activists and others who publicly criticize U.S. immigration policy. The complaint urges immediate action to protect those who have already been targeted for their activism and policy changes to ensure such retaliation does not occur in the future.

“Far too many immigrants live in fear that if they speak up for their rights, they will be targeted for arrest and deportation,” says Alina Das, Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Director of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic. “So long as federal immigration officials are free to target immigrants with impunity, the immigrant rights movement is in peril.”

The NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic documented more than one thousand instances of First Amendment retaliation in recent years, including the cases of prominent activists Claudio Rojas, Jean Montrevil, and Ravi Ragbir. Federal immigration officials in Miami detained and deported Mr. Rojas to Argentina in 2019 after a documentary film, The Infiltrators, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring his activism. Federal immigraiton officials in New York detained Mr. Montrevil and Mr. Ragbir in 2018 after they spoke critically of the agency as part of the sanctuary movement, deporting Mr. Montrevil to Haiti shortly thereafter. DHS continues to pursue Mr. Ragbir’s deportation to Trinidad and Tobago. The complaint asks DHS to exercise its discretion to protect these individuals and others from the harm of First Amendment retaliation, and seeks broader policy changes. 

“The First Amendment has always been the foundation of progress and the cornerstone of democracy in the United States,” says Jared Carter, Associate Director of the Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic. “The Biden Administration must end policies that violate the basic First Amendment principle that no person should be subject to government retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech or freedom of assembly.”


Ravi’s Case is Back in the Second Circuit, but His First Amendment Retaliation Claim Lives On

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support of Ravi and Amy over the years. We are writing to let you know that we recently received word that the Supreme Court has sent Ravi’s First Amendment case back down to the Second Circuit for a second look. 

Today’s order from the Supreme Court does not call into question the Second Circuit’s ruling that deporting immigrant-rights activists in retaliation for their political speech violates the First Amendment.  Such retaliation remains illegal and wrong.  The only question posed by today’s order is whether federal courts have jurisdiction to hear such First Amendment claims, and for multiple reasons, they clearly do, and Ravi’s legal team welcomes the opportunity to brief the jurisdictional issue further in the Second Circuit.

While today’s order will prolong the case, we remain hopeful that justice will continue to prevail at the Second Circuit and that nothing will change the ultimate outcome: ICE cannot weaponize the immigration laws to silence its critics. And, while this case again proceeds before the Second Circuit, a judicial stay of Ravi’s deportation remains in place.

Please stay in touch as we share further updates. Ravi and Amy are particularly grateful for your support during this time because the ongoing uncertainty and looming threat of deportation has been and continues to be overwhelming. Your support is a source of comfort and inspiration through the worst of times.

Together, back in 2018, we told ICE that they can’t deport a movement. It’s true. The movement is still here, and so is Ravi, and we will keep fighting. Thank you for standing with us.

With love and gratitude,
Ravi’s Defense Committee

Pack the Court for Ravi Oct. 30!

James_A._Byrne_United_States_CourthouseRavi has a case in the Third Circuit with oral argument set for Wednesday, October 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, at approximately 9am. The case is on appeal from the federal court in New Jersey, which denied Ravi post-conviction relief that would have given him the opportunity to reverse his deportation order.

Depending on the number of people who can come, the New Sanctuary Coalition and Ravi’s Defense Committee will coordinate a bus or carpools.

If you are interested in attending, please sign up here by Wednesday, October 23. Once you have signed up, you will receive information about traveling to Philadelphia to the hearing on October 30.

Press Release: Federal Appeals Court Holds that The First Amendment Protects Immigrant Rights Activists from ICE Retaliation


New York, NY —  A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir, concluding that the First Amendment prohibits the government from targeting immigration activists for deportation based on their political speech. “To allow this retaliatory conduct to proceed would broadly chill protected speech, among not only activists subject to final orders of deportation but also those citizens and other residents who would fear retaliation against others,” the decision states. It goes on to explain:

Ragbir’s speech implicates the apex of protection under the First Amendment. His advocacy for reform of immigration policies and practices is at the heart of current political debate among American citizens and other residents. Thus, Ragbir’s speech on a matter of “public concern” is at “the heart of . . . First Amendment[] protection,” and “occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.’”  Because Ragbir’s speech concerns “political change,” it is also “core political speech” and thus “trenches upon an area in which the importance of First Amendment protections is at its zenith.” Indeed, his “speech critical of the exercise of the State’s power lies at the very center of the First Amendment.”  (citations omitted).

The court of appeals concluded: “Ragbir’s speech implicates the highest protection of the First Amendment,” and “he has adduced plausible — indeed, strong — evidence that officials responsible for the decision to deport him did so based on their disfavor of Ragbir’s speech (and its prominence.”  

The decision further held that a federal statute stripping courts of their power to hear these First Amendment claims is itself unconstitutional. The court of appeals sent the case back to the district court to consider the case in light of its conclusions, directing the district court to stay Mr. Ragbir’s deportation as it considers the next steps in the case. Continue reading

Legal Update on First Amendment Case



Federal Appeals Court Grants Immigrant Rights Activist Ravi Ragbir Stay of Removal

On November 1, 2018,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted Ravi Ragbir a stay of removal days after hearing oral argument in Ragbir v. Homan, a First Amendment challenge to retaliation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against immigrant rights activists. The court has not yet issued a ruling on the First Amendment claim. The stay ensures that Mr. Ragbir will not be deported while the case is pending.

Mr. Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was abruptly detained by ICE in January 2018 for deportation based on a decade-old deportation order. A federal court in New York ordered Mr. Ragbir’s release later that month, and a federal court in New Jersey ordered a stay of removal in a pending case challenging the conviction underlying Mr. Ragbir’s deportation order. ICE has continued, however, to pursue Mr. Ragbir’s deportation, requiring him to report “for removal” if no stay was in place.

In February 2018, Mr. Ragbir, joined by New Sanctuary Coalition, CASA, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and New York Immigration Coalition, sued ICE, arguing that ICE’s actions against Mr. Ragbir and other immigrant activists violated the First Amendment. In May 2018, after a federal court denied the plaintiffs’ request for preliminary protections pending the First Amendment litigation for Mr. Ragbir, the plaintiffs appealed to the Second Circuit and sought a stay while  appeal is pending. The Second Circuit granted a stay on November 1, 2018.

For further information on Mr. Ragbir’s case, please visit:



Media Advisory: Federal Appeals Court Set to Hear Oral Argument on Ragbir v. Homan, a First Amendment Case Challenging ICE’s Targeting of Immigrant Rights Activists

325px-Thurgood_Marshall_United_States_Courthouse_WTM3_NYU_FC_0026For Immediate Release

***Media Advisory***

New York, NY: On Monday, October 29, 2018, at 10 a.m., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear oral argument in Ragbir v. Homan, a First Amendment case challenging the government’s retaliation against immigrant activists for speaking out against immigration policies. The plaintiffs of Ragbir v. Homan seek, among other things, a court order restraining the government from deporting and otherwise targeting immigrant activists based on their protected political speech.

The Government’s attempt to silence its critics is exemplified by its targeting of New York immigrant rights leader, Ravi Ragbir, who was surveilled, arrested, and flown to Florida for deportation, in defiance of the government’s own regulations, protocol and procedure. This targeting and retaliation of its critics is unconstitutional and has a chilling effect on all those who would speak out against the Government, both citizen and noncitizen alike.

Numerous immigrant rights groups, faith leaders, elected officials, and directly impacted individuals have submitted briefs in support of the plaintiffs in this case. Their briefing is available at

Stanton Jones of Arnold & Porter will deliver oral argument in the case.  After oral argument, attendees and community members will gather outside of the courthouse for a press conference, featuring key figures in the lawsuit and in the community, including Mr. Ragbir, Mr. Jones and other members of Mr. Ragbir’s legal team, faith leaders, and The Hon. Tish James, Public Advocate for the City of New York.

What: A court hearing and press conference about whether the government can retaliate against people who speak out against immigration policies by targeting and deporting them.

When: Monday, October 29, 2018 at 10 a.m. (Ragbir v. Homan is the fourth case scheduled that morning)

Where: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 40 Foley Square, Room 1703, New York, NY. A press conference will follow immediately after argument in Foley Square.


Legal Update: Ravi and Immigrants’ Rights Organizations File Reply Brief in First Amendment Lawsuit

On Friday, October 5, 2018, Ravi and immigrants’ rights organizations (the “Appellants”) filed their reply brief in Ragbir et al., v. Homan et al. The brief—which outlines the outrageous and unlawful targeting of Mr. Ragbir and other immigrant rights’ activists in retaliation for their vocal opposition to our broken immigration system—was filed in anticipation of oral argument which is schedule for Monday, October 29, 2018 at 10:00am before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Community members are encouraged to attend.

In addition, and preceding oral argument, the NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and Mr. Ragbir’s Defense Committee, will be hosting a First Amendment Teach-In entitled, Whose Speech? Our Speech! Immigrant Rights and the First Amendment, in anticipation of oral argument on Thursday, October 25, 2018 from 6pm – 8pm. The teach-in will be held at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York, a church founded as a temple of abolition in the 1850s, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Details and speaker bios forthcoming.

Link to Reply Brief:

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.