A federal judge said Monday that the arrest of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents was the type of behavior "we associate with regimes we revile as unjust".
Ragbir was arrested unexpectedly during a check in with immigration officials on January 11. The judge issued an order for his immediate release.
“There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye,” Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York wrote in a court order.
“That is, the freedom to hug one’s spouse and children, the freedom to organize the myriad of human affairs that collect over time,” the order continued. “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, regimes where those who have lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away.”
“We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it,” Forrest added.
Ragbir came to the United States decades ago and obtained permanent legal resident status. In 2001 he was convicted on wire fraud charges and spent time in prison. The crime also earned him a deportation order, and following his incarceration, Ragbir kept his record clean and checked in regularly with immigration officials.
Ragbir’s sudden arrest — and deportation proceedings, which Forrest did not stop with her order Monday — was cited by immigration activists as one of the most prominent instances of activist leaders being targeted for arrest and deportation.