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Press Release: Two hundred, including Faith leaders and Elected Officials, Gather in Solidarity for Release of Immigrant Rights Leaders Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil on MLK Day

New York, NY: [Hundreds] gathered at a vigil in Washington Square Park and Judson Memorial Church to show solidarity with all those affected by the deportation machine, including immigrant rights leaders Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil. Mr. Ragbir is the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, and Jean Montrevil is one of its founders. Mr. Ragbir was detained on Thursday January 11, one week after ICE detained Mr. Montrevil. Today, faith leaders, elected officials, and immigration and legal advocates gathered in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn the institutional oppression of marginalized communities and held a “Jericho Walk” in Washington Square Park, around Ai Wei Wei’s “Arch” migration sculpture.

New Sanctuary Coalition and Judson Memorial Church just became aware this morning that Jean Montrevil’s final appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) was denied on January 12. We believe he may be deported to Haiti imminently. We were not informed of the BIA decision directly, but encountered it by chance on the BIA website today. Mr. Montrevil’s lawyer has filed a petition for review (appeal) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. His legal team has reason to believe that an official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York inappropriately influenced the timing of this decision, if not the outcome of the decision itself and that this interference was improper. His lawyer is also filing an emergency motion for stay in the same court, as well as with the Federal District Court.

For press photos and video, please visit: http://bit.ly/mlk-day-ragbir-montrevil

Amy Gottlieb, Mr. Ragbir’s wife and Associate Director at the American Friends Service Committee, said, “After seeing my husband through a plexiglass window at Krome Detention Center yesterday, I felt inspired as I walked out of the visitation room by his willingness to continue fighting against injustice. As I feel the trauma and violence of having Ravi torn away from me, and see that this is retaliation against him and others around the country, I share his commitment to keep up the struggle and win.”

Janay Cauthen, Mr. Montrevil’s former wife and mother of his children, said, “ICE abruptly and unnecessarily took Jean away from his family without warning. Antoine, Janiah, Jahsiah & Jamya deserve to have their dad with them NOW! Bring Jean Home Now! Jean should not continue to be dehumanized by unjust immigration laws. Why must ICE punish him over and over for something that happened almost 3 decades ago for which he already served his sentence?”

Rev. Kaji Douša, Co-Chair of the New Sanctuary Coalition and Senior Minister, Park Avenue Christian Church, said, “Deportation is an act of evil perpetrated by our government, primarily against people who come from the countries that the President has so shamelessly recently disparaged. Mass detention and deportation may be presented as inevitable, but in truth it is the result of choice. Our activism is all about igniting and inspiring different choices. We choose justice over unjust laws. We choose humans over the mechanisms of evil. God is watching and so are we. We are joined in solidarity to ensure the government makes the right choice.”

Donna Schaper, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church, said, “We now have reason to believe that Jean will be deported tomorrow, having abruptly and mysteriously lost his Board of Immigration Appeals case. We are looking into the possibility of undue and inappropriate influence by ICE in this decision. Pray with me that ICE will find a way to do the right thing and keep Jean with his congregation and his children.”

Alina Das, Co-Director of the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and counsel to Mr. Ragbir, said, “People of conscience should be deeply disturbed by the targeting of immigrant rights leaders like Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil. While we challenge the government’s unlawful actions in the courts, the most important struggle is the one that Ravi and Jean have championed themselves—bringing communities together to support the rights of all people living in this country.”

Sara Gozalo, Supervising Coordinator at the New Sanctuary Coalition, said, “Ravi and Jean represent what the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency fear most, leaders who refuse to live in the shadows and continue to shed a bright light into their injustice and racism. The intimidating and oppressing tactics of ICE will not deter the New Sanctuary Coalition’s staff, our immigrant community, our faith leaders nor our volunteers from our unapologetic efforts to stop detentions and deportations. The New Sanctuary Coalition  stands publicly in solidarity with families and communities resisting detention and deportation.”

New York City Councilmember, Jumaane Williams, one of the 18 arrested on Thursday January 11 after ICE arrested Ravi, said, “Trump’s recent comments have made clear what we’ve always known—he opposes all immigrants from black and brown countries. The detaining of Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir by Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency stands as a human example of this attitude. Those that find the President’s words, and the views that portray, abhorrent should take a stand. Not to do so is to tacitly condone the overt racism of the President of the United States. “

Ben Ndugga-Kabuye of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), said, “Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir represent thousands every day whose human rights are taken by the largest immigration detention system in the world. Respecting and expanding the rights of immigrants is the first step towards justice and we join hands with all who commit to this journey.”

To learn more about Mr. Ragbir’s story and advocacy,  visit ravidefense.wordpress.com/ and listen to the Indefensible Podcast here: immdefense.org/indefensible-episode-5/

To learn more about Mr. Montrevil’s story and advocacy, visit: bit.ly/freejeannow

www.democracynow.org/2017/7/19/activist_father_of_four_faces_deportation

To join the conversation on social media, please use hashtags #IStandwithRavi
and #FreeJeanNow.

 

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