Known Activist’s Detention Sparks Immigration Protest


(ESPAÑOL) An immigration protest spontaneously occurred Thursday outside New York City’s immigration court, after word spread that Ravi Ragbir, a well-known activist had been detained by immigration authorities inside the building.

City leaders said Ragbir passed out while in detention, which occurred during a routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some supporters, who were already gathered outside the building for a scheduled prayer march and “vigil against deportation,” confronted a departing ambulance, resulting in multiple arrests, including those of two city councilmen.

Ragbir, an immigrant from Trinidad, has faced the threat of deportation since he was convicted of wire fraud 16 years ago. Following removal proceedings in 2006, he spent nearly two years in immigration detention before his release in February 2008, a period during which he became a rising voice for the country’s immigrant community. He is now executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

Until his detention, Ragbir had an administrative stay of removal in place, which suspends an order of removal. His attorneys said they had already filed a lawsuit.

“We came into the check-in with the hope that they would allow him to continue checking in as he has for many years, complying with all the rules that have been required of him,” said Alina Das, one of Ragbir’s attorneys who was present with him in the meeting, along with Ragbir’s wife.

“Obviously we are incredibly disappointed and, frankly, outraged by this decision,” Das said. “We continue to pursue our options — the legal challenges — to see that he will hopefully be freed soon and back with his wife and with the community that loves him.”

At the time this report was published, ICE had not responded to VOA’s request for comment regarding Ragbir’s arrest.

Ragbir’s arrest followed that of Jean Montrevil, an immigrant activist from Haiti who was taken into custody last week near his Far Rockaway, New York, home, and just one day after The Associated Press reported a wave of ICE raids at convenience stores across the country.

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