A well-known immigrant rights activist who was on the cusp of being deported this week has filed a lawsuit that allows him to stay in the U.S., for now.
Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group New Sanctuary Coalition, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in January during a routine check-in with the agency. What’s more, ICE sent him to a detention center more than 1,000 miles away in Florida. Ragbir was released more than two weeks later after Manhattan federal Judge Katherine Forrest called ICE’s decision “unnecessarily cruel.”
Despite his release, Ragbir was still scheduled for deportation for Saturday, Feb. 10. A suit filed Wednesday by Ragbir and other pro-immigration groups in federal court accuses ICE of targeting activists. For instance, Jean Motrevil, a co-founder of New Sanctuary Coalition, was deported Jan. 16 by ICE and sent to Haiti.
The lawsuit also discusses Ragbir’s time while in custody with ICE.
″[Ragbir’s] movements were restricted and monitored,” while in custody, according to the complaint. “Contact with his wife and his counsel was extremely limited, particularly while detained in Florida. He was unable to receive calls at all, nor could he make outgoing calls unless funds were placed in his phone account.”
The lawsuit adds that ICE officers knew that Ragbir was an activist.
On Thursday, a federal court agreed to halt Ragbir’s upcoming deportation while his case is considered. Saturday will now be a check-in for the activist instead.
“Like so many people who are living in this country under the threat of deportation, I know how important it is to raise our voices against the injustices in the system,” Ragbir said in a statement. “This lawsuit is not just about me, it is about all of the members of our community who are speaking out in our struggle for immigrant rights.”
Ragbir, along with other community organizers, plans to hold a rally outside of ICE offices in New York City on Saturday to “help hand-deliver a message of love for all immigrants.”