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Caribbean Roots Lawmakers Arrested For Standing Up For Trinidad-Born Immigrant

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NYPD Officers arrested New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams after a peaceful protest became violent due to the detention of the Activist Ravi Ragbir while he was on a ICE check in while a rally in support of immigrants was occurring at Foley Square in January 11 , 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Joana Toro /VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images)

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 12, 2018: Two Caribbean-roots, New York City lawmakers were arrested by New York City police officers Thursday as they protested the detention of a Trinidad-born immigrant.

Dominican Republic-born Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Grenadian American Councilmember Jumaane Williams were both cuffed and taken into custody as they joined a protest for Ravi Ragbir, who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Manhattan during a routine check in at Federal Plaza.

Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, reportedly fainted after being told he was being detained at 26 Federal Plaza and an ambulance was called as supporters outside ,who had gathered on behalf of the Trinidadian, blocked the ambulance.

AS many as 18, including the councilmembers, were forcefully arrested.

Ragbir entered the US more than 25 years ago legally but a 2001 wire fraud conviction made his green card subject to review. Even though he is married to a U.S. citizen and has a U.S.-born daughter, the government refuses to normalize his status.

Ragbir has been active on the immigration scene and was recognized with the Immigrant Excellence Award by the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, given to those who show “deep commitment to the enhancement of their community.”

Councilmember Williams, in a Facebook post Thursday commented: “Today, after more than two decades of living in this country, he was detained by ICE and removed in an ambulance. I was arrested while protesting his detention, alongside Ydanis Rodriguez and several of Ravi’s supporters. We need your voices to declare that #IStandWithRavi.”

 

Ragbir was transported via ambulance to New York Presbyterian Hospital, a spokesperson for the Immigrant Defense Project confirmed, and is being held at the Varick Street Detention Center.

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said that over the last 12 years, Ragbir’s immigration case “has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation’s judicial system, including both immigration courts and federal appeals courts.”

“In each review,” the statement continued, “the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Ragbir does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.”

“In an exercise of discretion, the agency had previously allowed him to remain free from custody with periodic check-ins, while his case was under court review. He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. District Court. He will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad,” the statement added.