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NY Judge Frees Caribbean Born Immigrant Activist For Now

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Jan. 30, 2018: Several immigrant activists in New York are celebrating a ruling yesterday that will see one of their own – Caribbean-born immigrant activist Ravi Ragbir, being released from a U.S ICE detention facility.

On Monday, United States District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the “the government has acted wrongly” and with “unnecessary cruelty” in detaining the Trinidad-born immigrant advocate during a routine check-in earlier this month.

She ordered his immediate release from a correctional facility in Orange County, New York, stating in her ruling that, “there is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye.”

“This abrupt and by all accounts unnecessary detention, a step in the direction of deportation, was wrong,” the judge added.

Ragbir came to the U.S. from Trinidad in February 1991 on a visitor’s visa. In 1994, he became a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
Ragbir was detained and ordered deported in 2006 by an immigration judge – without a hearing – based on a conviction for fraud, which he is currently seeking to vacate, based on factual and legal errors in his trial.

Through his own struggle to remain in the U.S., Ragbir became active in supporting other immigrants who were facing similar challenges. Today, he is a nationally recognized leader in the immigrant rights movement. Through his work, Ragbir met, fell in love with, and eventually married Amy Gottlieb, a U.S. Citizen and fellow immigrant rights activist.

Despite being eligible to readjust his status to permanent resident based on his marriage, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied his request for an opportunity to be heard. Ragbir is currently appealing this decision so that he can remain with his wife in the U.S., the place he has called home for over twenty years.

On January 11th, Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was detained during a routine check-in with ICE officers and told that he’d soon be deported to Trinidad. A chaotic scene ensued, as protesters attempted to block the ambulance transporting Ragbir, who’d briefly fainted after receiving the news. New York City police officers arrested 18 people, some violently, including City Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez.

But while Ragbir will get a taste of freedom again, he will have to ensure another appeal process and he’s scheduled to appear in court again next month.
Ragbir’s wife Amy Gottlieb, who works as an immigration attorney, has however, welcomed the judge’s ruling, stating Monday: “This is beautiful – this is what our judiciary is set up to do.”

She now hopes that Ragbir could be released in time to attend Donald Trump’s State of the Union today, which Rep. Nydia Velázquez has invited her to attend.

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, meanwhile, welcomed the decision tweeting: “Mr. Ragbir is a family man who has consistently fought for the well-being of all immigrants, as well as the local labor community. What happened to him is a disgrace and I’m glad he is a step closer to the justice he deserves.”

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