A vigil in solidarity with NY families facing deportation turned into a rally calling for the release of a local immigrant rights leader who was reportedly detained during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday morning.
NYC Council member Jumaane Williams, one of the two council members arrested, was released, but he continues to speak about Ravi Ragbir's detainment, police response, and Trump's recent vulgar comments.
Ragbir's detention comes only a few days after Jean Montrevil, a founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was also taken into custody by ICE.
Ragbir is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, an anti-deportation network of activists in New York City, and has been a permanent resident in the USA since 1994 after immigrating from Trinidad in 1991. At least 18 people were arrested today.
Mahfuzur Rahman, a student at City College of NY, said, "We know with Ravi, their entire accusation is based on a conviction from 20 years ago, which he served and since then he's been an excellent citizen-he's a better citizen than me!"
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Previously, ICE officials had granted Ragbir prosecutorial discretion, including a stay of removal that was in effect until next week.
Protesters feared the ambulance would take Ragbir to another ICE facility, but it instead evaded protesters and headed to Bellevue Hospital, according to the Daily News. He has been instrumental in advocating for rights of immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and perhaps it's supposed to send a message to those of us who are in the movement, sort of a scare tactic and an attempt to damage the movement.
He also said ICE officials shoved people to the ground and that it "lasted a while".
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Stephanie Druley, senior vice president for events and studio programs for ESPN, which is broadcasting the game, told Ralph D. A light drizzle fell on some fans milling about, but there were no anti-Trump demonstrators in sight.
Ministers and supporters regularly went to check-ins with Ragbir.
An ICE spokesperson said that Ragbir's case has been under extensive investigation by the nation's judicial system in both the courts of immigration and appeals, for years.
A legal challenge to vacate the original criminal conviction, which triggered Ragbir's immigration troubles, however, is now pending in federal court. ICE justified its decision and said he will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad.
Ragbir came to America from Trinidad in February 1991 on a visitor's visa and became a green card holder in 1994.
Many people were reportedly already gathered outside of 26 Federal Plaza for the planned vigil - sponsored by organizations including the Center for Constitutional Rights, Immigrant Defense Project, Make the Road New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union and more - meant to show support for those New Yorkers checking in with ICE officers today.
"They just simply said that they could".
He is married to Amy Gottlieb, a US citizen and fellow immigration activist, but has been unable to regularize his immigration status through marriage because of his prior conviction.
"Ravi is an acclaimed community leader, a loving father, and a steadfast immigrant rights activist".
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, called for Ragbir's release Thursday. "Ravi must be released immediately", he said.