Tuesday 23rd January 2018,

Asian Americans

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Immigrant Rights Activist Ravi Ragbir Detained By ICE, Sparking Protests

posted by Dana Delacruz

Ravi RagbirRavi Ragbir, a prominent immigrant rights leader, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers Thursday morning in Manhattan, prompting a chaotic protest that led to 18 arrests.

ICE ordered Ragbir’s immediate deportation, acting on a deportation order from 2006, according to Patch. Ragbir’s lawyer, Alina Das, told Patch there was a hold on that order until next week.

Ragbir was arrested in a federal building during a routine check-in; his supporters were gathered outside to march around the building. The crowd grew to at least 300 people as news of Ragbir’s detainment spread, the New York Daily News reported.

Ragbir fainted during his detainment and was placed in an ambulance. Protestors attempted to block the ambulance, fearing that Ragbir was being transported to another ICE building. New York police arrested 18 of these protesters, including New York city councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams. Ragbir was then transported to a nearby hospital.

Ragbir, an immigrant from Trinidad of Indian descent, is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, a faith-based immigrant rights group. His permanent residency was revoked in 2000 after being convicted for wire fraud, though Ragbir claimed he was blind to the fraud and received no profit from it. 

In 2006 Ragbir was given a deportation order and spent 22 months in immigration detention. ICE allowed him to remain in the country, requiring him to check in with ICE annually.

ICE Public Affairs officer Rachel Yong Yow told Buzzfeed News Ragbir has “exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the U.S. District Court.” She added that Ragbir “will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad.”

Ragbir’s legal team has filed a lawsuit challenging ICE’s actions. The federal court will hold a hearing on January 29 to determine the lawfulness of Ragbir’s detainment, according to a website run by Ragbir’s supporters.

Several prominent figures have called for his release. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) said in a press release that Ragbir is a “pillar in the immigrant community” and his detention is “unnecessary and inappropriate.” Many New York House Representatives have expressed their disapproval of ICE’s actions.Ravi Ragbir

Support for Ragbir inspired the hashtag #IStandWithRavi, and his allies encourage others to call ICE offices requesting Ragbir’s release.

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