News of activist's detention leads to NYC supporter arrests

Image via Sojourners

Image via Sojourners

Two New York City Council members were among those arrested following protests after an immigration rights activist was detained by federal immigration officials during a routine check-in. Ragbir is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NY and has been nationally recognized for his work. Sixteen other people were taken into custody.

Among those arrested were Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was seen being bent over the hood of a vehicle and grimacing in pain as he was handcuffed in video shot by Buzzfeed, and whose suit jacket was torn in the encounter; and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose account tweeted a photograph of an officer in front of him with both arms around Ydanis' neck, while the councilman's hands were pulled behind him by another officer.

Ragbir, who is the executive director of the of the interfaith immigrants' rights group New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, legally immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago more than 25 years ago. Ragbir, head of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NY, was detained when he checked-in with ICE, as hundreds held a silent Jericho prayer walk outside.

U.S. immigration agents arrested a prominent NY activist on Thursday to deport him to his country of birth, Trinidad and Tobago, as the Trump administration tightens its screws on migration.

Mr. Ragbir was not the only high-profile immigrant rights leader arrested in a one-week span.

According to New York Immigration Coalition, Ragbir has lived with the threat of deportation for almost a decade, as the result of a 16-year old conviction for wire fraud.

Officers are seen grabbing Williams, handcuffing him and slamming him onto the front of a auto.




Ragbir was then granted a stay of deportation until 2018 by ICE officers who used prosecutorial discretion. These supporters of immigrant rights are also hostile to the ongoing negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration over the potential elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy, which defers the deportation of individuals who came to America as minors. "A longtime New Yorker, a husband and a father, Ravi is beloved by all of us". So, it makes no sense to send him back to Trinidad, and I'm here today with my fellow people just to do what is necessary.

"The right to peacefully protest is a cornerstone of democracy and in these uncertain times, we are facing unprecedented attacks on our immigrant community from the White House", he added. "He was just going for a check-in, that's the only thing".

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said that over the last 12 years, Ragbir's immigration case "has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation's judicial system, including both immigration courts and federal appeals courts". "We're not even one bit afraid".

Julia, another protester, noted, "Honestly, [Ragbir's arrest] appears to be because of collaboration between the NYPD and ICE".

"The NYPD is definitely not required to collaborate with ICE, and [New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio has said previously that he would prevent it, as part of being a so-called Sanctuary City". The NYPD did not confirm the arrests to Observer.

At the time this report was published, ICE had not responded to VOA's request for comment regarding Ragbir's arrest.

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