News of activist's detention leads to NYC supporter arrests


Ravi Ragbir, executive director of faith-based immigrant rights group The New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained Thursday morning at 26 Federal Plaza, according to the Immigrant Defense Project. "Now, more than ever, it is important to show solidarity in the face of policies that threaten our communities".

"A 15-year green card holder, Ravi was detained and ordered deported in 2006 by an immigration judge - without a hearing - based on a conviction for fraud, which he is now seeking to vacate, based on factual and legal errors in his trial", the statement added. Ragbir was one of those individuals headed in for a routine check-in when he was detained, community members said. At the time, his lawyer, Alina Das, said Ragbir would have to go back in a month to try to secure a travel document. Just previous year, Ravi was recognized with the Immigrant Excellence Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, given to those who show "deep commitment to the enhancement of their community".

"Ravi Ragbir means everything to this city", said New Sanctuary Coalition Co-Chair Rev. Kaji Dousa.

But an ICE spokeswoman told the Daily News that Ragbir had "exhausted" his legal options.

Mahfuzur Rahman, a student at City College of NY, said, "We know with Ravi, their entire accusation is based on a conviction from 20 years ago, which he served and since then he's been an excellent citizen-he's a better citizen than me!"

More protests were scheduled for Thursday evening in front of the detention center where Ragbir was being held.

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Activists are encouraging others to call the ICE offices and NY senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to demand Ragbir's release.

Trivedi told India-West that after Ragbir was released from immigration detention in 2008, he was inspired by his experiences while incarcerated to speak out on prison reform and immigrant rights. "There is no doubt that he should be allowed to stay here with his family and community", Schaper said. A large number of his supporters, including several Indian-Americans, gathered outside the Jacob Javits Federal Building where he was detained, reports news agency PTI.

Videos that have surfaced on social media also show a heavy police presence, with NYPD officers forcibly pushing demonstrators out of the way of the ambulance and grabbing others to arrest them with zip-tie handcuffs. "Resist. Freedom. Resist. We are going to resist".

Eric Phillips, press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio, indicated City Hall is reviewing the matter. ICE justified its decision and said he will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad.

Ragbir's detention comes just days after ICE detained Jean Montrevil, another leader and founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

He is married to Amy Gottlieb, a USA citizen and fellow immigration activist, but has been unable to regularize his immigration status through marriage because of his prior conviction.