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

Georgetown_University_Law_School

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

Press Release: Rutgers Law School files amicus brief on behalf of law scholars and human rights advocates in support of Ravi Ragbir

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 6.23.01 PMESTFOR 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.

Press Release: Elected Officials, Religious Leaders, Immigrant Rights Organizations, and Legal Scholars File Amici Curiae Briefs in Support of Immigrant Rights Activists Targeted by ICE

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

The New York City Council Resolution 0182-2018 in Support of HR4937

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

Update on Ravi’s February 9 Hearing in New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 29, 2018

Today, Mr. Ravi Ragbir’s attorneys argued that Federal District Court of New Jersey should grant Mr. Ragbir a stay of deportation pending the Court’s adjudication of his underlying legal case, which seeks to vacate his criminal conviction or, in the alternative, vacate his sentence. Mr. Ragbir’s legal case has been fully briefed.
The following is a statement from Mr. Ragbir’s legal defense team:

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.

Mr. Ragbir, said: “I am overwhelmed by the broad support from the community today in the courtroom and beyond, and I am hopeful that the court will grant the stay. ICE tries to sweep us away and deport us, which not only jeopardizes our cases but also the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. It is critical that we continue to fight so all immigrants are able to exercise their due process rights.”

Information on the temporary stay granted in relation to the First Amendment Lawsuit, Ragbir v. Homan, here.

First Amendment Lawsuit Challenging the Targeting of Immigrant Rights Activists: Federal Government Agrees to Stay Mr. Ragbir’s Deportation Temporarily

PRESS RELEASE

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

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio writes to ICE asking to stay Ravi Ragbir’s deportation

[View the original letter here]

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 14.36.37 PMESTFebruary 1,2018

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.

Sincerely,

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 14.37.27 PMEST

Bill de Blasio Mayor