Ravi Ragbir, who last lived in his birth country of Trinidad and Tobago a quarter of a century ago, was arrested on January 11 in Manhattan on the basis of a wire fraud conspiracy conviction in 2001, for which he already served his sentence.
Married to a US immigration lawyer and the father of an American daughter, Ragbir received US permanent residency in 1994. In 2008, he was released from immigration detention when agents determined he was not a flight risk or danger to the community.
But while previous US administrations prioritised the deportation only of violent criminals, the administration of President Donald Trump has increasingly targeted those with any kind of criminal misdemeanour.
US District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled Monday that Ragbir’s detention had been cruel and ordered his immediate release.
“There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye,” she wrote in her seven-page ruling.
“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,” she said.
“We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it.”
The decision was welcomed by supporters of Ragbir, who is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, a coalition of more than 150 faith-based groups that advocate for immigrant rights.
“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,” said his wife, Amy Gottlieb, who is to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
Gottlieb was invited to the speech as the guest of New York Democratic congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
The president’s address is expected to reference the highly charged issue of migration, where the Republican continues to play firmly to his core supporters.
- Countries: Trinidad_Tobago