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.”


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

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:



First Amendment Case Update


Photo by Erik McGregor

On August 14, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard oral argument in Ragbir v. Homan, the First Amendment case filed by Ravi and immigrant rights groups, CASA, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, New York Immigration Coalition and New Sanctuary Coalition (the “plaintiffs”).

William Perdue of Arnold & Porter deftly argued before a packed courthouse that Ravi and the New Sanctuary Coalition should receive a stay of deportation. Perdue stated that there is strong evidence that the government retaliated against Ravi because he has been outspoken about the injustices of our current immigration system and he, the New Sanctuary Coalition, and the community have exposed ICE’s cruel and unjust practices.

Despite overwhelming evidence of retaliation, the government, represented by Steven Kochevar, emphasized that it should have the power to immediately arrest, detain and deport someone–like Ravi–with a final order of deportation. The government also could not promise the Court that it would not arrest, detain and deport Ravi if his current stay of deportation ends.

At the end of the hearing, over a hundred supporters of Ravi and the First Amendment held a press conference and rally in Foley Square, which culminated in a recitation of the First Amendment in English and Spanish, led by Ravi and renowned immigrant and reproductive rights activist, Alejandra Pablos.


On Tuesday, August 15, the Court issued an order in the case. The Court did not issue a decision on whether to grant Ravi a stay of deportation pending an appeal in the case. Instead, the Court asked that Ravi update it immediately if the stay of deportation from the federal court in New Jersey ends.

The Court also decided to expedite the plaintiffs’ appeal and stated that it will schedule oral argument in the case.

Please be on the lookout for an oral argument date in the coming months.


Currently, Ravi is scheduled to report to ICE for deportation on September 7, 2018. However, because there is a stay of deportation currently in place, that report date may be rescheduled. But we will always be prepared. Please look out for updates & information about actions on September 7th.

Thank you for all of your continued support as we stand up on behalf of the First Amendment rights of all our community members. We are truly grateful.

ICE Violating First Amendment by Targeting Immigrant Rights Advocates for Deportation, Legal Groups Say


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