New York, NY – The New York City Council Progressive Caucus announces its legal filing of an amicus brief to support immigrant rights leaders from a vicious crackdown by ICE, which is using the threat of detention and deportation to silence these leaders’ first amendment rights.
In partnership with the law firm of Covington & Burling, LLP, the Caucus filed an amicus brief along with Congressional, state, and local officials in support of the plaintiffs. The brief argues that (1) the targeting of immigrant rights activists has a significantly alarming effect on public debate over immigration reform during this critical time and in this political environment, and (2) protecting immigrant rights leaders from these unlawful practices is in the public interest.
Members of the Council’s Progressive Caucus unite under the charge to create a more just and equal city for all New Yorkers, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or documentation status. As champions of progressive values in New York City and advocates for New York City’s communities of color, our Members are often on the front lines against institutional racism and other discriminatory practices—especially those threatening constitutional protections such as the right to free speech. We are alarmed and outraged at ICE’s retaliatory efforts to silence leaders in immigrant communities across the country. We unequivocally rebuke ICE’s actions under the Trump presidency, and continue to stand in solidarity with immigrant communities to ensure that we live in a city that is a sanctuary for all New Yorkers.
The Caucus’ amicus filing is in support of immigrant rights leader in the case Ragbir et al. v. Homan et al. In this case, nationally recognized immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir, along with the New Sanctuary Coalition, CASA, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the New York Immigration Coalition, are challenging the unlawful targeting of immigrant rights activists nationwide in violation of the First Amendment.
“Immigrant activists play a fundamental role in protecting our immigrant communities by calling to attention the injustices present in our broken immigration system. As Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, I am proud to join my progressive colleagues in filing this amicus brief to ensure that activists, such as Ravi Ragbir, are able to exercise their free speech rights in a system that prevents them from voting and expressing their views in the electoral process. Citizens and noncitizens alike deserve to be heard by the political system that governs their everyday lives,” said Council Member Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.
“Ravi Ragbir has been living in the U.S. for 27 years. During that time he has become a leader in his community and a powerful voice for immigrant rights,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “If the Trump administration is successful in deporting him, it would mean separating him from his wife and daughter who are both American citizens. It is obvious Ravi is being targeted by ICE because he has dedicated his life’s work to fighting for immigrants. This targeted approach aimed deporting law-abiding community leaders is unjust and cruel.”
“As a city committed to providing sanctuary for every New Yorker, we proudly stand up in defense of immigrant rights activists. Leaders of the sanctuary movement protect our communities by exposing injustices immigrants face due to Trump’s xenophobic policies. As Chair of the Committee on Immigration and Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, I am proud to sign this amicus briefing, in an effort to support Ravi Ragbir. Our City, which is woven by our neighborhoods of immigrant families, will unite, resist and protect each other,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Vice-Chair for Civic Engagement of the Progressive Caucus.
“In a time when immigrant communities are increasingly under attack across the United States, I stand with the Progressive Caucus in support of this Amicus Brief. We need to keep New York as a place where all people are welcome,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair for Budget of the Progressive Caucus.
“I stand with Ravi, and I am glad to have the Progressive Caucus stand alongside him as well,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams, member of the Progressive Caucus. “As Donald Trump and ICE aggressively target immigrants for immoral deportation, we in New York have a moral obligation to stand against this xenophobia– not just for Ravi Ragbir, but for the thousands of immigrants under threat who lack the widespread support that Ravi has rightly received. Attacking immigrant rights leaders appears to be this administration’s strategy to create fear and disunity, and we must combat this head-on.”
“Through an ICE crackdown, the Trump administration may try to intimidate and silence Immigrant rights activists like Ravi Ragbir, but all those who stand for justice know that they cannot deport a movement,” said Council Member Brad Lander, member of the Progressive Caucus. “I along with the Progressive Caucus will continue to support and tirelessly defend the free speech and human rights of NYC’s immigrants against this administration and any other that attempts to undermine our ideals of equality, inclusion and justice for all.”
Council Member Margaret S. Chin, member of the Progressive Caucus, said, “ICE’s treatment of immigrant-rights advocates like Ravi Ragbir is disturbingly reminiscent of the darkest days of our country’s history, when civil rights leaders were targeted for speaking truth to power. I am proud to stand with Ravi and immigrant-rights advocates across the City to challenge the campaign of terror that the federal government has waged on immigrants, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect the promise of inclusion that our City has made to every community— regardless of class, gender, race or immigration status.”
“As a nation of immigrants and refugees, we must denounce the xenophobic and hateful actions of the Trump administration in the strongest terms possible. I proudly join my Progressive Caucus colleagues in standing with our immigrant communities and human rights leaders like Ravi Ragbir. ICE’s attempts to terrorize immigrants and refugees will be unsuccessful in the long term. New York City, and communities across the country, have decisively chosen to not turn their backs on our immigrant brothers and sisters. Our country’s best interests will never be served by policies of hatred and exclusion,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, member of the Progressive Caucus.
“We refuse to be intimidated by the threats coming out of the Trump administration. The reputation of the United States as a beacon of hope is directly correlated to our openness in accepting people from across the globe facing terrible circumstances. As a first-generation son of immigrant parents, I want to make sure that everyone, regardless of where they come from, has the same opportunity I was given. I will continue to fight alongside my Council colleagues to preserve NYC’s status as a sanctuary city. Our strength comes from our diversity, our focus must remain on what unites us, not what divides us,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, member of the Progressive Caucus.
“Immigrants are an essential part of the American story and they, like all Americans, have a right to free speech,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, member of the Progressive Caucus. “In today’s political and social climate, it is more important than ever that people speak out about discrimination and intolerance without fear. Thus, ICE’s persecution of immigrant activists is particularly troubling and disheartening. I support immigrant leaders in their right to speak freely without fear of being targeted for deportation or detention.”
“For generations, America has been a beacon of hope for people across the world, but this White House has only contempt for that symbolism,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, member of the Progressive Caucus. “Using ICE as an instrument to instill fear against its opponents, the Administration is waging a sinister crackdown against advocates who have mobilized the public against its bigoted immigration policies; abusing its enforcement authority. I stand alongside my fellow Progressive Caucus members in calling on the Court to shield these leaders, like Mr. Ragbir, from government sanctioned acts of intimidation.”
“Silencing free speech is un-American and unacceptable,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, member of the Progressive Caucus. “These tactics being used by the federal government to silence people speaking up against injustice and inequality cannot be permissible by our courts. Our nation was founded on the values of liberty and freedom – especially freedom of speech. I, along with the Progressive Caucus, stand with immigrant leaders like Ravi Ragbir against the intimidation tactics of ICE and the Trump administration.”
“Ravi Ragbir- a husband, father and immigration activist, has made countless invaluable contributions to this city and country by standing at the forefront for immigrant rights. However, his foes have attempted to tarnish his otherwise impeccable record of service by recalling a financial crime from over a decade ago and for which he has paid his debt to society. It is with great fervor that I support Ravi remain in the United States to continue being in the lives of his wife and kids as well as to continue his service and fight on behalf of immigrants,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, member of the Progressive Caucus.
“We’re grateful to City Council’s Progressive Caucus for its support for Ravi and other immigrant-rights leaders who use their voices to participate in the democratic process and make our cities, states, and the nation greater and more inclusive,” said Cody Cutting, a member of Ragbir’s legal team.
Represented by attorneys at Arnold & Porter and the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic, the Plaintiffs in Ragbir et al. v. Homan et al. have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which seeks an order (1) staying Mr. Ragbir’s removal pending adjudication of the case, and (2) restraining federal immigration officials from taking any adverse immigration enforcement action against any noncitizen on the basis of protected speech or expressive conduct, or, in the alternative, preliminarily enjoining federal immigration officials from opening an investigation into, surveilling, accelerating proceedings against, detaining, or altering the provisions of any order against any noncitizen on the basis of protected speech or expressive conduct. The Caucus supports the Plaintiffs in their motion.