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Immigration activist Ravi Ragbir released from ICE custody

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Ravi Ragbir (Courtesy of YouTube channel of Democracy Now)

He was under detention since January 11.

Immigration rights activist Ravi Ragbir was released from the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents after the Manhattan Federal Court ordered to end his detention on Monday.

The New York Daily News reported that Federal Court Judge Katherine Forrest ordered the release of Ragbir, who is from Trinidad, saying that his detention was “unnecessarily cruel.”

The court found that the ICE denied Ragbir his rights and the “unnecessary detention, a step in the direction of deportation, was wrong.”

“There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye,” Forrest wrote.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust.”

Ragbir, who is of Indian origin, was taken into custody by the authorities on January 11, 2018, during a routine check-in with ICE. He was also informed that he would be deported without further procedures. He was not given a chance to meet his family.

However, the court noted that Ragbir is subject to deportation only after due process followed by the authorities. “Constitutional principles of due process and the avoidance of unnecessary cruelty here allow and provide for an orderly departure. Petitioner is entitled to the freedom to say goodbye,” said the court.

Following the court order, the ICE agents dropped Ragbir off Monday night at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

“This is ethnic cleansing,” Ragbir told the News. “We have built this country. They want to destroy it. This is about removing people of color and bringing in the Norways, bringing in the Europeans and getting rid of all the ‘shithole countries.’ We have to stop this.”

Ragbir’s wife, Amy Gottlieb, said that they would continue the fight for his right to remain in the US. “Now the fight is to make sure Ravi can remain here with his family and continue his work to support immigrant rights in the United States,” she was quoted as saying by The Independent.

Meanwhile, the ICE criticized the judge’s decision to free Ragbir. “The agency is . . . concerned with the tone of the district court’s decision, which equates the difficult work ICE professionals do every day to enforce our immigration laws with ‘treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,’ and is actively exploring its appellate options,” said an ICE spokesperson.

A native of Trinidad, Ragbir came to the United States in February 1991 on a visitor’s visa. In 1994, he became a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

In 2006, an immigration judge ordered to deport him based on a conviction for fraud. He spent 22 months in detention before he was released in 2008. His struggles to remain in the country made him an immigration activist. Today, Ragbir is a nationally recognized leader in the immigrant rights movement.