I recently took part in the ‘You Can’t Deport a Movement’ action against deportation of immigrants at Foley Square where I captured some photos and recorded video. The event was organized to support the cause of New York City immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir who the federal government is looking to deport.
Janice Ginger who’s husband Ramesh was almost deported when taken by ICE in March of 2015. “In June 2016 he was taken to JFK to be put on a flight but, he didn’t get on that flight because he knew his rights. And this is why we’re here, to express what this movement is about and the rights that we have as immigrants in this country”.
Here is the livestream of the event I published on my Facebook:
From the event’s Facebook event page:
This moment is urgent. This is bigger than any one case. ICE is escalating its attack on immigrants, and only our movement can stop them. There is a new stay for Ravi’s deportation, but this moment matters now MORE THAN EVER! We must stand up for the countless thousands of Ravis and Jeans and show that we are powerful together! We leave no one behind! ICE cannot target our leaders OR our communities! Bring your friends, your colleagues, your love and solidarity to demand a #NEWSANCTUARYCITY
This rally concerns all of us — immigrants, U.S. citizens, New Yorkers. This is a fight against this racist administration’s attempt to overstep the constitution and cherry pick who has the right to freedom and who will be terrorized into silence. We’re going to let them know that this movement has deep roots and cannot be eradicated. We’re going to show them that you can’t deport a movement.
Here is some background on Ravi Ragbir from the website setup for his defence from deportation:
Long-time permanent resident, community activist, father, and husband, Ravi Ragbir, faces permanent exile from his life in the U.S. Ravi’s immigration story began when he came to the U.S. from Trinidad in February 1991 on a visitor’s visa. In 1994, he became a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
A 15-year green card holder, Ravi was detained and ordered deported in 2006 by an immigration judge—without a hearing—based on a conviction for fraud, which he is currently seeking to vacate, based on factual and legal errors in his trial.
Nydia Velázquez of the US House of Representatives for the 12th District of New York took the stage and said, “Mr. President, look at us, we are still standing here. We are strong and we are not going away. Yesterday we got some good news. That Ravi has been given an additional stay until mid March and that is progress but, not enough. Like any family Ravi and Amy deserve the peace of mind to know that their Government, Our Government is not going to needlessly and inhumanely tear them apart”.
“The Congress of the US has been totally, Totally ignorant of the ability to make this DACA a reality in the lives of our children. We must Press on, we must Raise our Voices. I sat on the floor at 5 o’clock in the morning looking at how the divide and conquer strategy works. So we pass a budge bill and it does a lot of wonderful things but, it also does some disastrous things. It Heaps a Pile of Debt on our Children and grandchildren and great grandchildren at this stage.”
“WE CAN TALK TO THE GLOBE BECAUSE OF WHO WE ARE, WE CAN END WARS BECAUSE OF WHO WE ARE. WE CAN BRING PEACE. AND AS LONG AS WE ALLOW THE XENOPHOBES, AS LONG AS WE ALLOW THE NEO NAZIS, THE RACIST TO GET OUT THERE AHEAD OF US, WE WILL HAVE TO LOOK OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN IN THE FACE AND SAY, WE FELL SHORT. CAN YOU LOOK THEM IN THE FACE AND TELL THEM YOU FELL SHORT?”.
See this livestream for coverage of the Velázquez speech.
Public Advocate for the City of New York Letitia James took the stage later on. The city’s Public Advocate is a citywide elected position. She said:
“You can’t kill an idea, you can’t kill a thought, you can’t kill a belief and cannot deport a movement. We’re happy that Ravi got a reprieve but, the reality is, is that, there are thousands, if not millions, of immigrants from, ‘Shithole countries’ who are facing deportation each and every day. ICE is standing INSIDE our courtroom and I’m so glad that the Legal Aid attorneys in the Bronx Stood Up and walked out!”
Activist Steven T. Sacco, part of Ravi’s legal team from the Legal Aid Society, gave a great speech saying:
“The imprisoned are not detained, they are inturned. The inturned are not in custody they are disappeared. And they are not asked to pay a bond the are coerced to pay ransoms. ICE does not implement policy it dispenses terror, it’s Thuggery masquerading as bureaucracy. Just because it’s agenda is sanctioned by law does not mean that it is not also morally depraved. We will not pay respect to institutions that do not respect human life. And we will not see legitimacy in the enforcement of unjust law.
ICE is engaged in a campaign of violence against our neighbors and loved ones. THEY’RE EXECUTING A WAR ON LIBERTY ITSELF. THE TIME HAS COME TO CALL EVIL OUR AS EVIL AND WE WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR NAMING BRUTALITY. ICE AGENTS HAVE EVEN TOLD ME TO MY FACE ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, ‘I’M JUST DOING MY JOB’. THEY ARE, THAT’S THE PROBLEM!”
I also published a live stream of Steven Sacco speaking:
Ravi spoke about being seen by the US as a “national security” threat as the reason he is being deported. “Who is the National Security problem, the doctor treating the sick, the restaurant worker who’s feeding the hungry, the father who’s taking his children to school? Are they a National Security problem? AM I A NATIONAL SECURITY PROBLEM? AM I COLLUDING WITH RUSSIA? WE ARE BECAUSE WE ARE CHANGING WHAT IS HAPPENING.”
To hear Ravi and Amy speak see my livestream here:
Co-Sponsoring Organizations of the event included:
New Sanctuary Coalition, New York Immigration Coalition, 32BJ SEIU, Bronx Immigration Partnership, Copwatch Patrol Unit, Critical Resistance, Detention Watch Network, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Democratic Socialists of America, Domestic Workers Alliance, Equality Labs, Immigrant Defense Project, Interfaith Center of New York, mPower Change, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition, Red Bloom / Solidarity Network, Restaurant Opportunities Center NYC, Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Rise and Resist, South Asian Solidarity Initiative, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) NYC, UnLocal, We Belong Together, WhyHunger, Workers Center of Central NY, Worker Justice Center of New York, and a growing list of others!