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13 January 2018, 04:45 | Erica Roy
NYC councilmen arrested at rally for immigrant rights activist detained by ICE
Prominent community activist Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was arrested in New York City Jan. 11 during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and ordered immediately deported.
At least 18 others were arrested including City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams.
Ragbir's detention comes just days after ICE detained Jean Montrevil, another leader and founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition.
He said he believed the sudden nature of Ragbir's detention was part of the problem. New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also among the protesters. When he was released, the NY resident became an outspoken activist for immigrants in the country. Alina Das, Ragbir's lawyer who was present at the check-in, told a group gathered in the cafeteria of the federal building that ICE had not given an update about his deportation case and that "at this time" they were going "to enforce the order". In March, Ragbir told Gothamist's Jake Offenhartz that he was just a low-level employee following the bank's own rules when he was charged.
As in Ragbir's case, immigration authorities had for years allowed Montrevil to continue to live and work in the U.S. while he was trying to clear a challenge to his immigration status related to a decades-old conviction for selling drugs.
"We've been told that he will be processed and taken to a detention facility, they will not tell us where".
The judge, Katherine B. Forrest, ordered Mr. Ragbir to be detained in the NY area so that he could be near his lawyer and family.
Previously, ICE officials had granted Ragbir prosecutorial discretion, including a stay of removal that was in effect until next week. He has been instrumental in advocating for rights of immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and perhaps it's supposed to send a message to those of us who are in the movement, sort of a scare tactic and an attempt to damage the movement.
Reverend Dr. Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church said that the city and the nation would be much worse off if Ragbir were to be deported.
After it was announced that Ragbir had been detained, many protesters moved into the nearby street and attempted to block an ambulance in which he was being transported.
In a statement, Yow said over the last 12 years, Ragbir's immigration case has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the country's judicial system.
"[He] does not have a legal basis to remain in the US", spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said. His attorneys are seeking to have that conviction vacated and, separately, plan to challenge the legality of the deportation order based on that conviction. ICE justified its decision and said he will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad. Ragbir has not been in Trinidad since he arrived in the United States in 1994.
It's not clear what charges Rodriguez, Williams or the 16 protesters arrested faced. He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. District Court.
Rep. Joe Crowley, a Democrat from NY, has called for Ragbir's release.
"Ravi Ragbir is an extraordinary man, beloved in his community and dedicated to fighting for immigrant rights".
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