The Arrest of Ravi Ragbir Triggered Mass Protest


Protesters accompany prominent immigration activist Ravi Ragbir, outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at the U.S. Federal Building during a Solidarity Rally Against Deportation on March 9, 2017, in New York City.

By Alexander Nason and

On the morning of January 11, Ravi Ragbir, a prominent immigrant-rights activist was arrested during a routine check-in by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), causing mass protest across NYC.

Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, comes from Trinidad and Tobago and has lived in the U.S. for the past 27 years. Having entered the country in 1991 on a Visitor’s Visa, Ragbir was eligible to obtain a green card three years later. But he lost his permanent residency status because he was convicted of wire fraud in 2006. After his conviction, ICE granted him a two-year reprieve from deportation, which was scheduled to expire on the January 19.

The fact that Ragbir was arrested early caused many to question the motives behind the arrest, and many inquiries surrounding his arrest were not answered. ICE attorneys stated that they “could not explain” why Ragbir was arrested.

Ragbir was not the only immigrant-rights activist who was arrested. The new immigration policies adopted by the administration have targetted and arrested many such activists. As many as 18 people were arrested, including two NYC Council members at a protest in NYC. These arrests spawned demonstrations across the nation, from NYC to Boston and to Seattle.

After his trial on January 29, Ragbir was freed. Ravi now is expected to return to the New Sanctuary Coalition, working to prevent situations like his from ever happening again.