Detained activist Ravi Ragbir released

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke at Federal Plaza with Queens Congressmembers Joe Crowley and Nydia Velázquez, passionately defends immigrants and their contributions to the fabric of American life.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Late Monday afternoon, Jan. 29, Ravi Ragbir walked out of Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshem, New York, after 19 days in immigration detention in Miami and New York State.

After being processed at 26 Federal Plaza on Monday evening, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer brought Ragbir to a welcome home by supporters at Judson Memorial Church.

Trinidad-born, Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, has been under threat of deportation for years for an old wire fraud conviction.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest’s ordered that Ragbir be released from custody immediately.

In her opinion, she wrote: “There is, and ought to be in this country, the freedom to say goodbye.” She condemned the inhumanity of people being snatched and sent away when people have lived without incident. Ragbir is still subject to deportation.

Ragbir was detained during a routine check-in at the Manhattan ICE office on Jan. 11. Street protests that followed led to 18 arrests including two City Council members.

Promptly flown to detention in Miami, he spent Martin Luther King Day with fellow detained activist Jean Montrevil, who was deported to Haiti the following day.

The last two and half weeks have rendered an emotional and physical toll for Ragbir and his wife, Amy Gottleib, however, support and solidarity continue to grow.

Ragbir’s pending legal action helped his lawyers’ appeal to block deportation, return him to New York State and get him out of detention. At his upcoming court hearing Febr. 9, in New Jersey, his legal team is looking to vacate his initial conviction thus nullifying the case for deportation.

Outside of Federal Plaza in Manhattan where ICE is housed, at a Jan. 27 morning press conference, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke said, “I stand shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues in seeking justice.”

“We’re standing in front of a building that’s become the headquarters of the Gestapo in the United States of America.” She highlighted the current fragmentation of families and stigmatizing of immigrants whose talents and expertise add value in building this country.

“It is truly a travesty that right here in the United States of America we are witnessing and participating in the greatest resistance of our times.

We will not sit quietly while this administration attacks hard-working people who contribute positively to our nation. This threat to immigration activists and their families is a threat to democratic values.”

To the press and supporters, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez emphasized how she and colleagues will speak with one voice and not be intimidated.

She further noted that the immigrants they were talking about are community leaders and, for their courage, face reprisals of detainment and deportation.

“ICE made a statement to the Daily News that they are going to put their resources into those who represent a threat to the safety and national security of our nation,” she reported.

Indignantly she pointed out, “I don’t understand that going after people like Ravi, make our country safer. Doctor Niec (detained Polish-born, Michigan doctor) and the five other leaders nationwide who have been detained represent a national threat? Really?”

Others detained or subject to removal proceedings include: father of four Jean Montrevil, co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition; Eliseo Jurado, husband of rights activist Ingrid Encalada Latorre; and Maru Mora-Villalpando, who leads Tacoma immigrant advocacy organization Northwest Detention Center Resistance.

Local electeds Nydia Velázquez, Carolyn Maloney, Joe Crowley, Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jefferies and Adriano Espaillat are among the 31 members of Congress, 1,800 community organizations and private individuals who sent letters to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson condemning ICE’s targeting of Ragbir and other immigrant activists.

Praying for Ravi and all immigrants during the Jericho Walk on Monday morning while Ravi was at his hearing in federal court.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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