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Arrest of Prominent Immigration Rights Activist Sparks Uproar, Protests in New York City

"A longtime New Yorker, a husband and a father, Ravi is beloved by all of us who have had the privilege of working with him to make New York a welcoming community for all of its residents. The fact that ICE has taken him as if his spirit, family ties and contributions to the community mean nothing is inhumane."

Protests erupted in New York City on Thursday after news spread that Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, which advocates on behalf of immigrants in one of the nation's largest cities, had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers during a routine check-in earlier in the day. (Photo: via Make the Road New York)

The arrest by federal agents of a prominent immigration rights activist in New York City sparked outrage and rapid-response protests on Thursday as the hashtag took off on social media.

According to reports, Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, which advocates on behalf of immigrants in one of the nation's largest cities, was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during a routine check-in meeting.

"Ravi Ragbir means everything to this city," said Rev. Kaji Dousa, the New Sanctuary Coalition's co-chair,  in a statement. "A longtime New Yorker, a husband and a father, Ravi is beloved by all of us who have had the privilege of working with him to make New York a welcoming community for all of its residents. The fact that ICE has taken him as if his spirit, family ties and contributions to the community mean nothing is inhumane."

As the news outlet Patch of New York City reports, news of the arrest led to hundreds of protestors gathering near Foley Square to condemn his detention. According to Patch:

Advocates say Ragbir has long led the local fight against immigration detention and deportation, and that he previously spent 22 months in immigration detention. [...]

Ragbir, a Brooklyn resident, came to the U.S. from Trinidad in 1991, according to an online bio. He got legal permanent resident status in 1994, but an immigration judge ordered him deported in 2006 because of a wire fraud conviction, which he was fighting. ICE had previously put his deportation on hold under a stay that was supposed to be in effect until next week, advocates said.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Linda Sarsour, New York resident and national co-chair of Women's March, explained why Ragbir's detention is so troubling and why the reaction by the community was so swift and urgent:

In dramatic footage shared on social media, police arrested some demonstrators, including New York City Council member Jumaane Williams who called on people to "Resist" even as he was handcuffed and press against the hood of a car by a NYPD officer:

Making the Road New York, another statewide advocacy group, was among those urging New Yorkers to mobilize on Ragbir's behalf:

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