First Amendment Rights at Stake as the Second Circuit Hears Ragbir Case
Are federal immigration officers free to retaliate against immigrant activists who exercise their First Amendment rights? That is the question the Second Circuit will confront on Monday, when it hears arguments in Ragbir v. Homan.
The case involves the highly public surveillance, arrest, transfer and attempted deportation of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, is an outspoken critic of ICE. For years, he has helped bring elected officials and clergy into ICE federal buildings to bear witness to the human costs of deportation. Last year, however, ICE began closing their public spaces to New Sanctuary Coalition volunteers, and, in January of this year, it conducted an apparently coordinated operation to surveil, arrest and deport two coalition leaders. ICE agents successfully deported New Sanctuary Coalition co-founder Jean Montrevil to Haiti that same month. In Ragbir’s case, a federal court intervened, issuing a temporary stay and ordering his release. But ICE continues to pursue his deportation.
Ragbir and Montrevil are not alone. Across the country, there have been more than 20 reported cases of immigrant rights activists being targeted by ICE after speaking out. Many people in the community have come to one conclusion: ICE is attempting to silence its critics.