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.

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.”


Media Advisory Wed 1/13: Congressional Briefing: Immigrant Rights Activists Targeted by DHS Call for Relief and Accountability on the Eve of Biden Inauguration

WHAT: Congressional Briefing: Immigrant Rights Activists Targeted by DHS Call for Relief and Accountability on the Eve of Biden Inauguration 

WHEN: Jan 13, 2021 2 – 3 PM ET 

WHERE: Virtual (Zoom). Please RSVP here

DETAILS: Targeted immigrant rights leaders will speak at a virtual congressional briefing to address how agencies within the Department of Homeland Security retaliate against immigrants for exercising their protected First Amendment rights. Scheduled to speak are: Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, Alejandra Pablos, Ravi Ragbir, Jahsiah Montrevil, Rev. Kaji Spellman Douša. 

This briefing will highlight how immigrant rights activists have faced arrest, deportation, detention, retaliation inside detention centers, and surveillance for standing up to injustices in their community. The Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law School has documented over 1,000 publicly-reported cases of retaliation and surveillance. The breadth of these abuses are evidence of how federal agencies are undermining core tenets of an open, free society.  

The briefing will focus attention on the urgent need for Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to provide immediate forms of immigration relief to targeted activists and to pursue accountability measures that can reign in the unchecked authority of these agencies. Members of Congress will discuss what elected officials can do to redress these wrongs.

Additional information about the campaign to end First Amendment retaliation is available at: 


  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) 
  • Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-9) 
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY-7)
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) 
  • New Sanctuary Coalition 
  • Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU Law School
  • Migrant Justice 
  • Immigrant Justice Network 


Press Release: Supporters of Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir Hold Solidarity Rally On Day of His ICE Check In


Photo by Gili Getz

Ragbir not detained but must check in again July 23

Today at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, 150-200 community members rallied to support immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir for his check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Ragbir was accompanied by a delegation of elected officials and faith leaders to his appointment inside 26 Federal Plaza. Although he was not detained, Ragbir must return on July 23.

At the rally, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams told the assembled crowd, “I happen to have the privilege of being a citizen. And everybody who has privilege has to use that to protect those who don’t, those who are being abused and oppressed. That is our duty to stand in the gap. It is our duty to make sure we are lifting up those who have been oppressed by a system…. How do you have a life when you have to check in every six months and you don’t know what’s going to happen?”

Pastor Kaji Dousa, Senior Pastor, Park Avenue Christian Church and co-chair, New Sanctuary Coalition, said at the rally, “Ravi Ragbir is one of the strongest forces in the immigration movement, standing up with and for righteousness, rights, and the soul of our city & nation. For his work, ICE has tried to silence and disappear him. Ravi belongs right here, in his home, New York City, which stands with him every step of the way. When he walks out of ICE today, he will walk right back into his activism. Because the government of this impeached President cannot and will not stop this movement.”

Congressmember Yvette Clarke, who also spoke at the rally and accompanied Ragbir inside the ICE office, said “I was honored to accompany Ravi, a highly revered human rights activist to his check in today, joined by Congressmember Nydia Velasquez. Of course there was a lot of bureaucratic tousling but we ultimately got into his check in. He is stayed again for another six months, but this system needs to be changed. He is no threat to our communities. He has been lawful in his presence and we look forward to his vindication.”

Alina Das, Ragbir’s attorney said, “When ICE detained Ravi two years ago, they said it was because of public safety. But we are the public, and we are safer because Ravi is here. ICE targeted Ravi because he spoke out against a cruel and unjust system. He is still here because the public has spoken out for him. We are grateful that Ravi is still with us, and we will continue to fight to protect the rights of all immigrants.”

Ragbir’s wife, Amy Gottlieb, said “We are so grateful to have the support of our legal team, our families, our friends, our elected officials, our faith leaders, as ICE continues to try to exert power over our lives. But we know that we will walk out each time, and that our power as a united community will overcome injustice and lead us to victory.”

Background: Ragbir received his greencard in 1994, but now faces the double punishment of deportation based on a single fraud conviction he received almost twenty years ago. He was given a final order of deportation in 2007 but was placed on an order of supervision in 2008, allowing him to live and work in the U.S. During that time, he became active in the immigrant rights movement, and paid the price for that activism when ICE detained him on Jan. 11, 2018, and tried to deport him.

A federal appeals court has recognized that the First Amendment protects immigrants from retaliation for their protected political speech and has issued a temporary stay of Mr. Ragbir’s deportation. The government is deciding whether to appeal the decision.


Press Advisory: NY City Council Members and Advocates Declare that Ravi Must Stay





Tuesday, January 30, 2018

***Press Advisory***


  • Stephanie Miliano / 954-534-2144 /
  • Kevin Fagan / 917-608-8784 /

New York, NY – Tomorrow, January 31st at 1pm on the steps of City Hall, Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, alongside other elected officials, and advocates will stand with Ravi Ragbir to call for his permanent presence in the United States.

Yesterday, Monday, January 29th, a federal judge ordered Ragbir’s release from ICE detention. While his deportation has been stayed until February 9th, his deportation order is still in effect. Local and federal elected officials, and advocates will continue to work to reverse the Department of Homeland Securities decision to deport him.

WHAT: Press conference calling for Ravi Ragbir’s permanent presence in the United States

WHO: Ravi Ragbir; Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Jumaane Williams, Justin Brannan; New Sanctuary Coalition; elected officials; advocates; list in formation

WHEN: Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 1pm

WHERE: Steps of City Hall


Press Release: Immigrant Rights Leader Ravi Ragbir Returns Home As Community Continues to Call for An End to the Targeting of Activists


Photo by Alina Das

New York, NY –  Nationally recognized immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir was released from ICE detention yesterday evening following a federal court decision calling for his immediate release. 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.

After being processed at 26 Federal Plaza on Monday evening, Mr. Ragbir was brought by an ICE officer to Judson Memorial Church around 8:00 pm, where a large group of supporters were gathered to welcome him home.

Today, Mr. Ragbir and his wife, Amy Gottlieb, are traveling to Washington D.C., as Ms. Gottlieb will be attending the State of the Union at the invitation of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. Last week, 31 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.

“I am thrilled to be home with my family and loved ones, and I know that it is due to the extraordinary community and legal support that I am privileged to have,” said Mr. Ragbir en route to Washington, D.C. “We have a struggle in front of us, but it is through our collective commitment to justice that human rights and happiness will persevere.”

“Ravi and I are so gratified by Judge Forrest’s order to release him and that she recognized that his detention was unconstitutional,” said Amy Gottlieb, wife of Mr. Ragbir and an immigrant rights advocate with American Friends Service Committee. “As we travel to Washington, DC, we are aware of the need to push even harder for fair and humane immigration laws that allow people to remain with their families in the United States, and we are committed to that effort. Attending the State of the Union with Congresswoman Velazquez is an important step that we hope will help raise awareness of the need for change.”

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.

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.

For further information, please visit:

Mon. 1/15 in NYC: MLK Solidarity Day for the Release of Immigrant Rights Leaders Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil




 Vigil to Be Held at Washington Square Park

Press Conference to Follow at Judson Memorial Church

WHAT: Rally to call for the immediate release of immigrant rights leaders, Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, and Co-Founder Jean Montrevil. Mr. Ragbir was detained on Thursday while reporting to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a routine check-in. Mr. Ragbir’s detention comes just one week after ICE detained Jean Montrevil, another immigrant rights leader.

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., faith leaders, elected officials, and immigration and legal advocates will come together to condemn the institutional oppression of marginalized communities and hold a “Jericho Walk” in Washington Square Park, around Ai Wei Wei’s “Arch” migration sculpture. A press conference will be held following the vigil to call for Mr. Montrevil and Mr. Ragbir’s release, and to honor the 18 people who were arrested putting their bodies on the line in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience in defense of Mr. Ragbir.

In the face of Trump’s unprecedented assault on immigrant communities and blatant racism, the fight for the rights and dignity of immigrants is more important than ever.  Trump’s recent disparaging remarks about immigrants from Caribbean, Central American, and African countries highlight the critical need for continued resistance and unity.

SPEAKERS: New York City Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez, who were among the 18 people arrested in an act of civil disobedience during Thursday’s solidarity vigil; Rev. Kaji Douša, whose grandfather stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial; Rev. Donna Schaper, civil rights leader and senior minister at Judson Memorial Church; Alina Das, Professor at New York School of Law and legal counsel to Ravi Ragbir; and loved ones of Jean and Ravi.

WHERE: Washington Square Arch & Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10012 

WHEN: Monday, January 15

Media are also invited earlier events at the church the same day:

To join the conversation on social, please use hashtags #IStandwithRavi and #FreeJeanNow.