A federal judge on Tuesday said she would decide if ICE needs to bring Ravi Ragbir — an immigrant rights leader whose detention last week sparked heated protests and resulted in 18 arrests, including of politicians — back to New York.
Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained Thursday after he reported for a check-in at ICE’s Manhattan offices. Ragbir was transferred to Miami that day, his attorneys said.
Justice Katherine Forrest said she expects to make a decision in the next day or two.
Ragbir’s attorney Alina Das said despite a federally issued temporary stay of immigration on Jan. 11, as well as a judge’s order for Ragbir to stay in the New York area, ICE agents transported him to Miami anyway.
“It’s infuriating me and I see it as punishment, retaliation, trying to keep him away from his family, his community, his lawyers, his team, everybody,” said Ragbir’s wife of seven years, Amy Gottlieb, as she stood outside federal court on Tuesday. “He thrives as a person in community, and they’ve taken him away from that community.”
Ragbir came to the United States in 1991 from Trinidad and obtained a green card in 1994. But in 2006, a judge ordered him to be deported because of a 2001 wire fraud conviction, according to a group of community members and advocates who have fought for him to stay in the country. His attorneys have been arguing to overturn that conviction.
“I think it’s incredibly frustrating that we have to go to great lengths just to give him his day in court that he was already on track to receive,” she said about the effort to appeal the original wire fraud conviction, adding the government has been “incredibly aggressive.”
Gottlieb, who was with Ragbir when he was arrested, said she watched him faint.
“He told me he was going to black out and then his eyes rolled back and he fainted,” she said, adding of the protest outside that day: “I was in such a state of disbelief that everything was happening. It felt so powerful and moving and beautiful to have all our supporters have this immediate reaction to what was such an injustice.”
A total of 18 people were arrested during the protest in Foley Square, including city councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams.
Since then, Gottlieb said she’s had so many feelings like “terror, fear, anger kind of rotating . . . panic.”
A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29 to determine whether Ragbir’s detention was lawful, his attorney said.