Velázquez Takes Legislative Action for Ravi Ragbir
Introduces Private Bill Protecting NYC Community Advocate from Deportation
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) took legislative action to grant legal status to prominent local immigrant rights advocate, Ravi Ragbir. Ragbir was recently released from detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), yet, he continues to face an uncertain future and possible removal. In response, Velázquez has introduced a private bill, H.R. 4937, which would grant Ragbir legal permanent status, and in the case of his deportation, a legal right to return to the United States.
“The outrage after ICE detained Ravi is a testament to his status as a community pillar,” noted Velázquez. “Ravi poses no danger to anyone and, in fact, has dedicated himself to helping others. Threats to deport him are nonsensical and inhumane. My bill puts our community’s support into legislative action. If enacted, it would allow Ravi to stay in the U.S. and, should he be removed, establishes a legal mechanism for him to return.”
Currently, Ragbir faces potential deportation as early as February 10, 2018. During a routine check-in with ICE on January 11, 2018, Ragbir was detained and taken into custody. On January 29th, Ragbir’s lawyers won his release from jail when a federal court judge in Manhattan described Ragbir’s detention as “unnecessarily cruel.” Ragbir was granted a stay of deportation by a New Jersey judge previously. He has another hearing before the New Jersey judge scheduled for Friday. ICE has ordered Ragbir to report for deportation on Saturday.
“In addition to providing a potential legislative remedy for Ravi’s supporters to rally around, this bill will also send a signal to ICE and the Courts that Ravi enjoys strong support among the community and elected officials at all levels of government,” said Velázquez. “It is my hope that the Courts and ICE do the humane and right thing by Ravi and this legislation sends them the message that we stand in solidarity with Ravi.”
“I cannot fully express the gratitude I feel to Congresswoman Velázquez, for taking a stand against ICE’s efforts to target those standing up for the rights of immigrants,” said Ragbir. “In the absence of just and humane immigration reform, I hope that bills like this will be signed into law to recognize the contributions that immigrants make to this nation. In the meantime, I will continue to organize for all families who face the threat of exile due to this inhumane system.”
Kaji Dousa, Co-Chair of the New Sanctuary Coalition Board and Senior Minister, Park Avenue Christian Church, said, “On February 10, ICE intends to exile one of the nation’s most outspoken immigrant leaders, Ravi Ragbir. We commend the action taken by Congresswoman Velázquez and we will continue to work hard to protect Ravi and so many others like him to show ICE that they can try to deport our leaders, but they will never deport the movement.”
Velázquez has been a longtime supporter of Ragbir and has sent multiple letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE, spoken personally with the Director of ICE to urge Ragbir’s release and has visited him during his detention. Additionally, Amy Gottlieb, Ragbir’s wife, attended the 2018 State of the Union address as a guest of Congresswoman Velázquez. Less than 24 hours after his release from detention, Ragbir was able to accompany Amy to Washington, and attended President Trump’s speech as a guest of Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY). A resident of Brooklyn, Ragbir lives in Velázquez’s Congressional district.
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