On 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.
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
FOR RELEASE MARCH 7,2018
The Rutgers Law School International Human Rights Clinic filed an amicus brief on behalf of law scholars and human rights advocates in support of Ravi Ragbir, an immigrants’ rights activist who was recently released from detention after his abrupt and unconstitutional arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). Mr. Ragbir is scheduled to be deported on March 15, 2018.
In its “friend of the court” amicus brief, the Rutgers Clinic argues that international law places great value on “political speech,” including criticizing United States immigration policy, and requires that Mr. Ragbir be allowed to speak without fear of retaliation. The Rutgers Clinic also argues that it is hypocritical for the U.S. to deport Ragbir for speaking about one of the country’s most important public policy issues, while simultaneously criticizing governments around the world for jailing advocates who speak publicly about the need for legal reform. In addition, the Clinic argues that Mr. Ragbir was targeted because of his prominent activism.
“This is a man who is a community leader and poses no threat to anyone. He advocates for legal reform in the most peaceful and constructive manner, and is well within his rights to do so,” said Professor Penny Venetis, Director of the Clinic. “International law protects immigrants in the United States from being retaliated against because of their political speech.”
The International Human Rights Clinic pursues cases and projects in U.S. domestic courts and international tribunals to address civil rights and human rights violations occurring within and beyond U.S. borders. It has litigated cutting-edge cases, including the landmark Hawa Abdi Jama v. United States INS, 22 F. Supp. 2d 353 (D.N.J. 1998), which held that detained immigrants are protected from abuse by international law.
Ragbir is the Executive Director of The New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, an interfaith network of congregations, organizations, and individuals, who support people resisting detention and deportation. He is married to a Rutgers Law graduate Amy Gottlieb ’96, who is an associate regional director of American Friends Service Committee.
Eight Rutgers Law students from the Clinic contributed to the brief. The new hearing is scheduled for March 15, 2018.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2018
New York, NY — In response to the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s recent targeting of immigrant activists for deportation, civic, political, and religious institutions, together with legal scholars, file legal briefs 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 of New York City, CASA, Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition. The lawsuit seeks, among other forms of relief, a preliminary and permanent injunction restraining the government from taking further action to effectuate a deportation order against Mr. Ragbir, while also seeking 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 curiae brief on behalf of over 130 religious leaders and 4 religious institutions and membership organizations; Covington & Burling LLP filed on behalf of 50 local, state and federal elected officials; and Make the Road NY and the National Immigration Law Center filed on behalf of 21 organizations from across the United States dedicated to organizing communities struggling with burdens imposed by immigration laws and policies. An amicus brief filed by the Rutgers Law School International Human Rights Clinic on behalf of law scholars and human rights advocates is forthcoming. Continue reading
Res. No. 182 [See press release here]
Resolution calling upon the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, H.R. 4937, which would provide immigration relief for New York resident Ravidath “Ravi” Lawrence Ragbir and denouncing the unlawful targeting of immigrant rights activists for deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2018
Today, the federal district court for the District of New Jersey heard arguments on whether it has the power to grant a stay of deportation in Mr. Ravi Ragbir’s case pending a decision on his underlying lawsuit which challenges the legality of his sole conviction and sentence. Counsel for Mr. Ragbir are hopeful that the court will exercise its inherent authority to grant the stay as it will ensure Mr. Ragbir’s ability to meaningfully participate in his proceedings.
Information on the temporary stay granted in relation to the First Amendment Lawsuit, Ragbir v. Homan, here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2018
Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir and Community Organizations File First Amendment Lawsuit Challenging the Targeting of Immigrant Rights Activists Federal Government Agrees to Stay Mr. Ragbir’s Deportation Temporarily
New York, NY — Immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir, together with the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, CASA de Maryland, Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition, filed suit (Ragbir v. Homan) in federal district court in the Southern District of New York today to challenge the recent targeting of immigrant rights activists by federal immigration officials. Pending briefing and consideration of a preliminary injunction motion, the government has agreed to stay Mr. Ragbir’s deportation temporarily. Continue reading
Mr. Thomas Decker
Field Office Director
New York Field Office
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 9th Floor, Suite 9-110
26 FederalPlaza New York, New York 10278-0004
Dear Director Decker:
I am writing to urge you to stay the removal of a beloved New York City community leader, Ravi Ragbir.
In his more than 20 years as a lawful permanent resident in the United States, Mr. Ragbir has made significant contributions to the city’s civic life and has been widely recognized for his work as a speaker, educator, and organizer on issues related to immigrant rights. He and others like him have played a crucial role in making New York a beacon of diversity and inclusion for so many. Forcing him to retum to Trinidad would not only affect his wife and child – who are U.S. citizens – but would adversely impact the larger immigrant community. The breadth and depth of Mr. Ragbir’s ties in our city should weigh heavily in favor of a stay of his removal.
Despite your office’s claim to prioritize for deportation those individuals who pose a public safety risk, these actions and others have raised serious concems about how ICE is targeting immigrants. Over this past year, New York City has experienced a spike in ICE activity, especially in courtrooms – an area most New Yorkers consider safe.
These activities not only create fear in immigrant communities, but undermine public safety. New York City is the safest big city in America because of the trust between law enforcement and communities, including immigrant New Yorkers. When ICE takes aggressive action against leaders in immigrant communities, it casts a chilling effect on immigrants’ willingness to engage with govemment and law enforcement generally, undercutting that trust.
The safety and interest of New Yorkers should be central to any determination concerning Mr. Ragbir, or other individuals arrested by ICE. Therefore, I request that ICE exercise its discretion to permit Mr. Ragbir to remain with his family in New York.
Bill de Blasio Mayor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 5, 2018
**For more information join the press call – Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 1:15pm. Register here: http://bit.ly/ravipresscall ** Presenters: Ravi Ragbir, Alina Das and Jessica Rofé (NYU School of Law), Kaji Douša, Senior Minister, Park Avenue Christian Church, co-chair, New Sanctuary Coalition
Congresswoman Velázquez Introduces Private Bill for Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir as Community Prepares for His Possible Deportation on February 10th
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) today introduced H.R. 4937, a private immigration bill, on the floor of the House of Representatives. If signed into law, H.R. 4937 would provide Ravidath “Ravi” Ragbir, a nationally recognized immigrant rights leader who faces imminent deportation, with an avenue to permanent immigration status. Should ICE deport Mr. Ragbir, which could happen as early as Saturday, February 10, H.R. 4937 would still have effect and provide Mr. Ragbir with a right of return.
Mr. Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained on January 11, 2018, at a routine ICE check-in in New York City. His detention was part of what growing numbers of elected officials, faith leaders, and community organizations are calling a surge of retaliation by ICE against outspoken immigrant rights activists who are vulnerable to deportation. Mr. Ragbir’s legal team from the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law won his release from detention on January 29, 2018, only to learn that ICE was ordering Mr. Ragbir to report for deportation on February 10.
“The outrage after Ravi’s detention by ICE is a testament to his status as a community pillar,” noted Congresswoman Velázquez. “Ravi has dedicated himself to helping others and poses no threat to anyone, making threats to deport him nonsensical and inhumane. My bill puts our community’s support into legislative action. If enacted, it would allow Ravi to stay in the U.S. and, should he be removed, establishes a legal mechanism for him to return.”
“In addition to providing a potential legislative remedy for Ravi’s supporters to rally around, this bill will also send a signal to ICE and the Courts that Ravi enjoys strong support among the community and elected officials at all levels of government,” said Velázquez. “It is my hope that the Courts and ICE do the humane right thing by Ravi and this legislation sends them the message that we stand in solidarity with Ravi.”
Mr. Ragbir welcomes the introduction of H.R. 4937, while recognizing that his fight is far from over. “I cannot fully express the gratitude I feel to Congresswoman Velázquez, for taking a stand against ICE’s efforts to target those standing up for the rights of immigrants. In the absence of just and humane immigration reform, I hope that bills like this will be signed into law to recognize the contributions that immigrants make to this nation. In the meantime, I will continue to organize for all families who face the threat of exile due to this inhumane system.”
Kaji Douša, Co-Chair of the New Sanctuary Coalition Board and Senior Minister, Park Avenue Christian Church, said, “On February 10, ICE intends to exile one of the nation’s most outspoken immigrant leaders, Ravi Ragbir. We commend the action taken by Congresswoman Velázquez and we will continue to work hard to protect Ravi and so many others like him to show ICE that they can try to deport our leaders, but they will never deport the movement.”
Mr. Ragbir has been ordered to present himself for deportation on Saturday, February 10.
For more information please visit: https://ravidefense.wordpress.com and http://www.law.nyu.edu/immigrantrightsclinic/case-campaign-materials
New York, NY – A federal court judge today ordered the immediate release of nationally recognized immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir. Mr. Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained on January 11, 2018, at a routine ICE check-in in New York City.
Judge Katherine B. Forrest, who presided over the case, held that ICE violated Mr. Ragbir’s due process rights by his “abrupt and by all counts unnecessary detention.” “Taking such a man, and there are many such men and women like him, and subjecting him to what is rightfully understood as no different or better than penal detention is certainly cruel,” wrote Judge Forrest. “We as a country need and must not act so. The Constitution commands better.”
The New York University School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic represents Mr. Ragbir in his lawsuit. Brittany Castle and Jeremy “Cody” Cutting, who presented the case on behalf of Mr. Ragbir with clinic supervisors Alina Das and Jessica Rofé at today’s hearing, stated, “Thousands of our community members live and work in this country with removal orders just like Mr. Ragbir. We are pleased that Judge Forrest recognizes that this slip of paper erases neither their constitutional rights nor their humanity.”
Mr. Ragbir, who received his greencard in 1994, was previously detained by ICE for nearly two years when he was placed in removal proceedings in 2006 for an old wire fraud conviction. He was released from immigration detention in 2008 when ICE determined that he was not a flight risk or danger to the community. Following his release, Mr. Ragbir became a community activist and currently leads a coalition of over 150 faith based groups that advocate for immigrant rights.
“The judge’s decision restores my faith in the power of our institutions to protect the rights of people facing such a cruel and inhumane system,” said Amy Gottlieb, wife of Mr. Ragbir and an immigrant rights advocate with American Friends Service Committee. “I am so thrilled that Ravi will be home with me, as he always should have been. Now the fight is to make sure Ravi can remain here with his family and continue his work to support immigrant rights in the United States.”
In the days since Mr. Ragbir’s detention, a growing number of community organizations and elected officials have questioned ICE’s motives in targeting Mr. Ragbir. Last week, nearly 30 Congressional representatives and nearly 1,800 community organizations and private individuals sent letters to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen condemning the targeting or Mr. Ragbir and other immigrant activists by ICE.
The spectre of political motivations was felt in the courtroom as the parties debated why ICE had taken Mr. Ragbir into custody after previously recognizing his contributions to the community and his pending legal challenges to his removal for so many years. In a statement following the hearing, Das explained, “Detention can never be used to silence dissent. Mr. Ragbir is a husband, father, and community leader who has worked tirelessly to advocate for justice in our immigration system. There was simply no legitimate basis to detain him.”
Mr. Ragbir has a challenge to his underlying conviction pending in federal court in New Jersey and a motion to reopen his removal proceedings before the Board of Immigration Appeals, neither of which have yet been adjudicated. “We have been pursuing justice for fundamental errors in Mr. Ragbir’s criminal and immigration proceedings for several years,” said Rofé. “We will continue to fight for his day in court on these claims as the community calls for an end to the pursuit of Mr. Ragbir’s deportation and the targeting of other activists.”
Mr. Ragir’s legal team and wife traveled to the facility after the hearing and anticipate that he will be released later today.
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