Immigrant activist's NYC detention prompts protests, arrests for City Council members


Ragbir is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. "Now, more than ever, it is important to show solidarity in the face of policies that threaten our communities".

In 2006, Ragbir was ordered by an immigration judge to be detained and deported, stemming from a 2001 conviction of wire fraud - an aggravated felony.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley also issued a statement after ICE detained Ragbir.

"In each review, the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Ragbir does not have a legal basis to remain in the US", she said.

Protesters were taken into custody Thursday by police outside a federal building in Manhattan where activist Ravi Ragbir was detained by officials and told he will be deported. 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 Rev. Kaji Dousa, co-chair of The New Sanctuary Coalition and senior pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church, in an emailed statement.

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!" "The fact that ICE has taken him as if his spirit, family ties and contributions to the community mean nothing is inhumane". Following removal proceedings in 2006, he spent almost 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.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also among the crowd Thursday morning.

Until his detention, Ragbir had an administrative stay of removal in place, which suspends an order of removal.

The decision to detain Ragbir, who has been called a "fixture in the immigrants' rights movement", and immediately clamp down on a protest in support of him reflects the attempts to intimidate large numbers of workers and youth who are opposed to the attack on immigrants. Some people even went into the federal building with him to say prayers before he went in.

Video footage showed Williams being forcibly taken off the street and thrown against the hood of a vehicle before being handcuffed.

"He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the US District Court". "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".

Eric Phillips, press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio, indicated City Hall is reviewing the matter.

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