Activist Ravi Ragbir on the Dehumanization of Immigrants

ICE tried to deport this immigration activist for a nearly two-decade-old conviction — even though he already served time. He told Brut that he thinks the Trump administration is intentionally traumatizing immigrant families.

They didn't want to see me deported

ICE raids, family separations, conditions inside detention centers — immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir says the Trump administration is intentionally traumatizing immigrant families. Ragbir is an outspoken critic, even as he fights his own immigration case. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Ragbir has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years. His wife and daughter are U.S. citizens. But he faces deportation from a nearly 20-year-old wire fraud conviction — for which he served time. He then spent 22 months in immigrant detention before being released in February 2008. He had routine ICE check-ins, but in January 2018, ICE took him into custody and tried to deport him. He says the traumatizing experience caused him to faint.

Ravi Ragbir recalls the ordeal, “Even as they checked my vitals, they made me walk shackled to the ambulance. They were saying, you know — There were thousands of people you accompany me on the outside. Outside. They didn't want to see me deported. Wow. People were getting an arrested, including elected officials. I've been fighting my deportation since 2006. When they released me from detention in 2008, I continued to regularly check in with [ICE] routinely. But on January 11th, [2018] instead of sort of it being a routine check-in, the assistant field office director said to my attorney and my wife that they are going to take me away. They want to deport me. It became very traumatizing — traumatizing because you know, I was, I fainted. There were thousands of people there accompanying me on the outside and…and they were… they didn't want to see me deported.”

That day, as Ragbir sat inside an ambulance, his supporters protested outside. 18 demonstrators were arrested. In April 2019, a federal court granted Ragbir a stay of deportation because it found ICE violated his constitutional rights by targeting him because of his activism. Ragbir continues his ICE check-ins and lives with uncertainty around being deported. But he continues his advocacy as the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition NYC, an interfaith group that helps undocumented immigrants facing detention or deportation.


09/03/2019 6:50 PM


  • Mindy C.
    04/23/2020 18:55

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  • Mindy C.
    04/23/2020 18:55

    PLEASE SHARE THIS AND MAKE VIRAL!!Dear officer official of stewart detention center of lumpkin georgia, I am writing this to ask for immediate release of detainee Jenson Alban Funes Cruz a#201349212 of this here facility, due to the covid-19 outbreak in his presence. LUMPKIN, Ga (WRBL) – Seven CoreCivic employees that work at the Stewart County Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19. According to legal documents obtained by News 3, there are now five detainees who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 more suspected cases within the detainees. Mr. Funes has came and is in close contact with these individuals and is extreme danger of contacting this virus. As you are well aware of that this is a very DEADLY virus. Please grant him immediate release asap. MR. Funes has a US citizen spouse here and a US born child here as well and has been approved for the I-130 spousal visa and currently in line for it. Mr.Funes has been in the legalization for about 4 years now and needs to be free to be able to continue to file his 601A application immediately. Please take this in consideration his wife and child needs him he was the main provider for his family here in the US. In view of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and the government’s inadequate response to it, we, the undersigned organizations, demand that as the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) you use your discretion to order the immediate release of all people detained in ICE custody. Jails, prisons and detention centers are sites where people are acutely vulnerable to health complications and the impact of outbreaks. Choosing to deprive people of their freedom contributes to the already lethal conditions of mass confinement1. Our communities have witnessed the devastating effects of mass detention on people held in ICE facilities. Under the Trump administration, we have seen a notable increase in reported deaths in detention, an alarming trend that is tied to fatal medical neglect, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate resources for people detained. In just five months, at least eight lives have been lost in ICE custody-- already equaling the total number of people who died in detention in the entire previous fiscal year.2 In refusing to take even the most basic preventative measures, the government is continuing to put the lives of people in its custody at risk. This global pandemic demands immediate action to minimize the propagation of COVID-19. The main recommendation from experts regarding COVID-19 is to enforce strict social distancing practices, which is impossible inside detention centers. Outbreaks of mumps, scabies, and other highly contagious diseases3 have been documented to spread aggressively in detention facilities including in the following GEO Group-operated facilities: Aurora Contract Detention Facility, Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, and the Adelanto ICE Processing Center. ICE has repeatedly proven to be incapable of adequately responding and providing the proper care forpeople in its custody, under normal circumstances. In light of the news that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, we call on ICE to release all people from detention. Those in ICE custody should not be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 and we request that ICE immediately: ● Release all people currently detained in ICE custody ● Cease all local enforcement operations ● Eliminate ICE check-ins and mandatory court appearances…judges all over the US are demanding the release of many detainees at which are at great risk to exposure of the covid-19 virus which im greatly begging you to please release Jenson alban funes cruz a#201349212 at once whom in currently waiting on his appeal at this time and theres no need to detain him any longer please let him come home to us!! If in fact my husband the named above is infected with the covid -19 and does not get the deserved medical attention or in case he in fact is infected and does not survive I will notify but not limited too all news and newspaper and all public sources of media and so on and also will in fact be in touch with my attorney in the event of such happening!!! He is locked up with about 50 other inmates in the same room as he, and more than 5 have symptoms including fever and cough and breathing difficulties’ but not limited too other symptoms and no medication distribution to those individuals and only 2ft apart from other detainees in that room, meals are now late and served cold and in small portions having the same meals for more than 3-4 days at a time now!!! I have wrote to many people and this is the only response I have received: Good Afternoon, ICE will continue to prioritize the safety and security of all detainees, employees, and contractors through the duration of this pandemic. ICE is maintaining a continually updated FAQ regarding our response to the COVID-19 crisis at Very Respectfully and Stay Safe, R. Brandon Eccles, SDDO: I would like to know what kind of response is that to a request to release my husband from custody??!! Sincerely spouse of jenson alban funes cruz; mindy funes

  • John R.
    10/01/2019 03:09

    I would say the same things if i were paid by the left.

  • Michael A.
    10/01/2019 02:47

    All these saying its illegal there ancestors did it illegally. Ghis land was stolen from the Natives.

  • Samuel L.
    10/01/2019 01:43

    I don’t care if your an immigrant. I care how you came to be in this country. Do it legally. It’s the same thing with my house. I don’t care if you came to visit. However, if you’re sneaking into my house and I confront you; there will be me and you in that confrontation......and then just me.

  • Jeff L.
    09/30/2019 19:57

    Too bad don’t come

  • Hugh H.
    09/30/2019 17:53

    I Love it

  • Jeffrey M.
    09/30/2019 15:22

    Build. That. Wall.

  • Lunark M.
    09/30/2019 14:59

    We don't have a problem with immigrants, just do the paperwork and process properly, I do think more help and aid should be given as a decent human commodity like food, water and shelter if they don't have any and need it until the process is done

  • Cacho A.
    09/30/2019 13:03

    Don’t comeback if you afraid!

  • Dan Y.
    09/30/2019 07:43

    Don’t come!

  • Gary B.
    09/30/2019 07:31


  • Pralay S.
    09/29/2019 23:40

    Send him to his country immediately

  • Kota L.
    09/29/2019 20:32

    Okay what part of illegally is so hard to understand?..... Some one Rob's a bank.... Criminal. Someone kills.... Criminal. Someone sells drugs.... Criminal. What do these things have in common with one another? They are illegal and most of you look down upon people that act out these crimes. However, someone crosses our border illegally. And it okay?

  • Josh E.
    09/29/2019 16:37

    If you are here illegally you should be nervous.

  • Jason W.
    09/29/2019 03:01

    Good job Trump keep up the good work and keep the illegals out of our country

  • Jess H.
    09/29/2019 01:54

    If someone is in the country ILLEGALLY then they should be deported, SIMPLE.

  • Timothy S.
    09/29/2019 01:53

    Then send them back where they came from! We have starving kids here and veterans that are turned away all too often! Send them back!

  • Charlie W.
    09/28/2019 17:02

    Every body i work with elegals every day in agriculture. It is all about money. 1 American dollar is worth between 12 and 27 im Mexican dollars. They send 100 dollars back to their country it becomes 1200 dollars.

  • Charity F.
    09/28/2019 15:23

    He don't need to be in this country

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