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



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]

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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.


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Bill de Blasio Mayor

Press Release: Congresswoman Velázquez Introduces Private Bill for Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir as Community Prepares for His Possible Deportation on February 10th



Contact Alejandra Lopez,, tel: 917-294-9348 or Mizue Aizeki, tel: 646-543-7644

**For more information join the press call – Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 1:15pm. Register here: ** Presenters: Ravi Ragbir, Alina Das and Jessica Ro (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.

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Press Release: Federal Court Orders Release of Detained Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir As Community Continues to Call for An End to the Targeting of Activists

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.

For more information, please visit:


Detained Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir To Be Transferred to a Facility in the New York Region, Community Continues to Demand His Release



JANUARY 17, 2018

Following massive peaceful demonstrations in New York City protesting the detention of New York-based immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir in Krome Detention Facility in Miami, Florida, federal immigration officials agreed today to return Mr. Ragbir to the New York area, where he will remain detained pending the outcome of his legal case.

Mr. Ragbir was detained on January 11, 2018, while reporting to the New York Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office for a routine check-in.  Without notice to his family or his attorneys, Mr. Ragbir was taken to Krome Detention Facility in Miami, Florida late that afternoon. The same day he was detained, Mr. Ragbir’s attorneys at the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic filed a lawsuit challenging his detention and obtained a federal court order issuing a temporary stay of deportation and preventing the government from transferring him outside of the New York area pending consideration of his case. ICE refused to bring him back, and a hearing was held on January 16, 2018, to determine whether ICE must be ordered to comply with the decision. At the hearing, the judge urged the government to consider returning Mr. Ragbir to a detention center closer to his family and counsel.

On January 17, 2018, counsel for ICE wrote to the court stating that they would exercise discretion to bring Mr. Ragbir back to the New York area. Another hearing on the lawfulness of detention is scheduled for the end of January.

“The last five days have been a nightmare for me,” said Amy Gottlieb, wife of Mr. Ragbir. “The government took my husband away from me and for a time no one would tell me where he was. When we learned he was taken to an immigration prison over a thousand miles away, I was both heartbroken and outraged. They never should have taken him away from his community in the first place, and I will not rest until he is free.”

Mr. Ragbir is the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, a faith-based coalition devoted to immigrant rights. He is one of several immigrant rights leaders who have been targeted for deportation by ICE in recent days.  Jean Montrevil, a co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was deported to Haiti on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

“We will call for action in our places of worship, in the streets, and in the courts until we receive justice for Ravi, Jean, and all others who face this inhumane system,” said New Sanctuary Coalition Co-Chair Rev. Kaji Dousa, Senior Pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church. “As people of faith, we must stand united against the targeting of our immigrant rights leaders.”

The New Sanctuary Coalition will be holding its weekly Jericho Walk at 26 Federal Plaza on Thursday January 18, 2018, at 11am, and at 201 Varick Street at 5pm, in support of justice for all immigrants, including Mr. Ragbir and Mr. Montrevil.

Legal Update on the Detention of Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir [Updated]


On January 11, 2018, Ravi Ragbir, a nationally recognized immigrant rights leader and Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained while reporting to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a routine check-in.

Upon his detention, Mr. Ragbir’s attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging ICE’s actions in federal court in downtown Manhattan (Ragbir v. Sessions, No. 18-cv-00236, S.D.N.Y.). A copy of the lawsuit is available here. The federal court has ordered a hearing on January 29, 2018, to consider whether the actions of ICE are lawful, and issued both a temporary stay of removal and a temporary order preventing Mr. Ragbir’s transfer away from his family and counsel in the New York region pending consideration of the case. However, ICE’s detainee locator system currently lists Mr. Ragbir as being detained at Krome Detention Facility in Florida. Mr. Ragbir’s family and community supporters continue to demand Mr. Ragbir’s immediate release, and Mr. Ragbir’s lawyers are working to ensure his return to the New York region and his family.

UPDATE: Because Mr. Ragbir remains in Florida, Mr. Ragbir’s lawyers filed a motion to enforce the court’s temporary order preventing transfer from the New York region. The government filed a motion to vacate both the temporary stay and the temporary order regarding the transfer. A hearing on these motions will be held on January 16, 2018.

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