ICE detained an activist who had been in the country for more than 20 years
Ravi Ragbir, an activist of Trinidadian origin and leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York, was arrested and transferred to a detention center by the authorities.
Hundreds of people gathered yesterday in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park to denounce the detention of two of the most important immigrant activists in the city, according to local reports.
Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil are the leaders of the New Sanctuary Coalition, an organization that helps citizens to fight against deportation and radical measures from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE).
For Ravi Ragbir, despite working every day in cases like his, his detention came as a cold shower, and he fainted while being handcuffed.
Like many other cases, his detention was carried out during his voluntary checkup with immigration. According to his wife and attorney’s testimony, the activist was transported in an ambulance that had to face several demonstrators that tried to stop it from taking Ravi away.
NYPD officers responded immediately, carrying out several arrests including Reverend Juan Carlos Ruiz who was shouting “We want Ravi with us. He is family. He needs to be free,” according to Socialist Worker.
Ragbir immigrated to the US in 1994 as a green card holder. After the mortgage company, he worked for was investigated for fraud in 2001, Ravi was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to three years of house arrest and 30 months in a federal prison. After fulfilling his sentence, he received an order of deportation without a hearing.
Ever since, Ravi has been fighting his case and has joined the cause of so many immigrants that, just like him, are married to US citizens and have kids that were born in the country.
According to his wife, Amy Gottlieb, Ragbir was taken to the Bellevue Hospital and the last time she heard from him he was in a detention center in Miami.
But the activist left a video recorded in case he was detained in which he urges his followers to keep fighting for his rights and for the rights of every immigrant in the country.
These detentions have triggered a strong rejection in the activist community that considers this to be a retaliation strategy from the government.
“La Migra is harassing and monitoring the sanctuary churches to send a strong message to the movement against the struggle around Ravi’s case. If we lose the sanctuary churches, we will also loose schools and hospitals and other sensitive places that are already few”, said Reverend Ruiz to TeleSur.
“ICE officials informed us that they haven’t ordered any operation on churches, but we do have clear signs of vigilance (…) we have taken measures like turning off phones and to recognize each other on meetings, this is a state of siege”, said the church leader.
Although there haven’t been any detentions in the sanctuary churches so far, religious representatives like Reverend Fabián Arias have denounced the presence of ICE officials during the religious celebrations like the Virgen de Guadalupe last December 12 in the Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, as El Diario de Nueva York reported.
“One of our priests located two people who weren’t within the context of the festivity. They identified themselves as ICE agents and said they knew there was an immigrant event going on and that they were just checking,” said the Reverend. “Our priest told them this was a sanctuary church and invited them to withdraw.”
Arias has denounced these recurrent situations of harassment to “instill fear in the community.”
Seth Stein, spokesman of the Mayor’s Office in New York said that “targeting families in sensitive places like churches don’t help to improve public safety.” He also recalled that “to get free legal assistance on immigration issues, New Yorkers can call 311 and say ActionNYC.”
Council member and deputy leader of policy, Brad Lander, urged to fight for Ravi’s cause through the hashtag #IStandWithRavi. Likewise, he invited everyone to the informative panel “Know Your Rights” hosted by New York City’s YMCA tomorrow at 6:30 PM.