New York City Council members violently arrested protesting immigration activist's deportation

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

Rachael Yong Yow, a spokeswoman for the NY field office of ICE, said in a statement on Thursday that in the last 12 years Mr. Ragbir's immigration case has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels.

Police and immigrant-rights protesters clashed Thursday outside 26 Federal Plaza, New York City's immigration court, after word spread that Ravi Ragbir, a well-known activist known to protect immigrant families from deportation, had himself been detained by immigration authorities inside the building.

Ragbir was attending his required annual ICE check-in when federal agents made the arrest.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The NYPD arrested 18 people outside of the building, including Councilmen Williams and Rodriguez, according to BuzzFeed.

Despite the Trump administration's stated goal of focusing on deporting immigrants with violent criminal offenses, Ragbir's supporters suspect he was targeted by ICE officials for his activism.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said in a tweet that he and fellow Democrat Jumaane Williams were cuffed Thursday during the protest after Ravi Ragbir was taken into custody by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Manhattan. After serving five years in prison for a wire fraud conviction, a judge ordered his deportation in 2006, but Ragbir received a stay of removal in 2011 and his case is reevaluated annually. He's been called a "fixture in the immigrants' rights movement" and was awarded the 2017 Immigrant Excellence Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators for his efforts to help the immigrant community.

Ragbir is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. And he called on the NYPD to release body camera footage of the protest if it exists.

Photo On Thursday, immigration officials detained Eliseo Jurado, right, the husband of Ingrid Latorre, an immigrant rights activist who is fighting deportation as she takes sanctuary in a Colorado church.

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

According to Common Dreams, he had a "stay of removal", which would prevent him from being deported, that was supposed to be in effect until next week.

When an ambulance arrived to transport him to a local hospital protesters gathered around the vehicle. So why should his rights and all he's done for his community be stripped away just because of this lunatic in the [White] House? "Two of my colleagues, as I mentioned upstairs, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, were arrested".

The sudden arrest of the Trinidadian-born migrant, whose legal status - like many migrants - has been in a state of limbo for nearly ten years, sparked demonstrations outside the Manhattan federal building where he is being held. "We're not even one bit afraid". 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. The NYPD did not confirm the arrests to Observer.

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