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12 February 2018, 04:23 | Devin Moran
Ragbir slammed the Trump administration's immigration policy after his release calling it"ethnic cleansing
Ravi Ragbir, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, says in a lawsuit that immigration officials have wrongly targeted him and other activists in an effort by the federal government to silence dissent.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, activist Ravi Ragbir, who is subject to an order for deportation because of a 17-year-old wire fraud conviction, and five immigrant-rights groups allege that their advocacy has made them subject to harassment, surveillance and arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Scuffles erupted between his supporters and police after Ragbir, 53, was arrested on January 11 in the NY borough of Manhattan at his annual appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Ragbir was scheduled for deportation Saturday but won a temporary stay Friday while a federal judge reviews his case.
Ragbir, 53, whose detention sparked several protests last month, will be able to stay in the United States for the time being, according to a court order issued in NY on Friday.
"Like so many people who are living in this country under the threat of deportation, I know how important it is to raise our voices against the injustices in the system", Ragbir said.
Ragbir said, "This lawsuit is not just about me, it is about all of the members of our community who are speaking out in our struggle for immigrant rights".
"We thought it was a shot in the dark", Ragbir said to his supporters today. "We intend to put an end to this vindictive practice".
The lawsuit seeks, among other forms of relief, a preliminary and permanent injunction restraining the government from taking further action to effectuate a deportation order against Ragbir, while also seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction restraining the government from selectively enforcing immigration laws against individuals based on protected political speech.
Forrest also addressed in her ruling allegations that ICE is targeting immigrant advocates on the basis of their political speech, saying that the allegations give her "grave concern".
Separately, Ragbir appeared in a court in Newark, New Jersey, to ask a judge to halt deportation while he appeals the 2001 wire fraud conviction.
In a statement forwarded by an ICE spokeswoman, Matthew Albence, the agency's executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations, denied that ICE arrests immigrants based on their political advocacy or in retaliation for critical statements.
Large crowds gathered in Lower Manhattan Saturday for a rally and march in support of immigrant rights.
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