Ragbir v. Homan — Retaliatory Deportations of Immigrant Rights Activists

The First Amendment prohibits the government from retaliating against individuals for exercising their freedom of speech. For example, it restrains the government from targeting individuals for expressing disfavored views through the use of prosecutorial authority, the terms of public employment, or the denial of benefits. So, too, should it restrain the government from targeting immigrant rights activists through the selective enforcement of immigration laws. The Knight Institute and Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) submitted an amicus brief in Ragbir v. Homan to explain the First Amendment concerns raised by retaliatory deportations of prominent activists like Ravi Ragbir, who is now seeking to prevent ICE from removing him from from his family and community in New York City.

Because the government's removal actions against Ragbir appear to have been motivated by his political speech—in an emerging pattern of viewpoint discrimination by ICE—and because no legitimate government purpose justifies those actions, the brief argues that the First Amendment bars Ragbir's removal from the United States. It further argues that ICE's recent practice of targeting immigrants in retaliation for their protected speech burdens not only their own First Amendment rights, but also the rights of their community members who wish to hear what they have to say. The courts should not allow this or any other administration to use the threat of deportation to suppress speech with which it disagrees.