Lawsuit Demands an End to ICE Targeting of Immigrant Rights Movement Leaders

February 12, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Trump/Pence regime is using the immigration police the way Hitler used the Gestapo—as a political weapon against those standing up against the intolerable treatment of immigrants. And in particular, there is stepped-up repression against leaders of the immigrant rights movement, in an attempt to sow terror among immigrant communities and to crush the resistance. A federal lawsuit filed on February 9 by Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, and a number of immigrant rights groups, sheds important light on these fascist attacks: “Since January 2017, federal immigration authorities across the country have engaged in a pattern and practice of targeting outspoken immigrant-rights activists who publicly criticize U.S. immigration law, policy, and enforcement.”

The lawsuit charges that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is unlawfully suppressing political dissent by targeting outspoken immigration activists for surveillance and deportation. The plaintiffs (those bringing the suit) are Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, and a number of different immigration rights groups. In January, Ragbir, a nationally known immigrant rights leader, was arrested at a regularly scheduled check in at the ICE office in New York City, taken to the notorious Krome Detention Center in Florida, and nearly deported to Trinidad (See interview with Ravi Ragbir on The Michael Slate Show). Ragbir was released from detention but had been threatened with deportation on February 10. As we post this, he received a stay of deportation but is being required to check in at the ICE office on March 15.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are ICE and its acting director, the director and assistant director of ICE’s New York Field Office, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, which ICE is part of) and its head, the Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The lawsuit charges: “Defendants have investigated, surveilled, harassed, raided, arrested, detained, and even deported these activists in order to silence them. They have arrested activists immediately following press appearances and news conferences. They have detained spokespeople and directors of immigration advocacy organizations. They have surveilled the organizations’ headquarters and targeted their members. And they have targeted communities identified by the federal government as ‘sanctuary cities’ to punish those communities for taking legislative, municipal, and political action to limit official cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.


Photo: Peter Switzer


“This sharp spike in immigration enforcement specifically targeting the most vocal immigration activists is intended to stifle dissent.”

The lawsuit focuses on Ravi Ragbir’s case, pointing out: “Since his release from immigration detention with a final order of removal over a decade ago, Mr. Ragbir has dedicated his professional and personal life to speaking out against immigration policies that he considers unjust. He has been a vocal critic of ICE and other components of DHS. His work and his views about immigration policy and enforcement are frequently profiled in local and national media.” The suit presents facts on how ICE has targeted Ragbir for surveillance, harassment, and threats of deportation because of his political outspokenness and activities.

The suit also raises the ICE repression against others, including:

  • Jean Montrevil, a co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition, who was deported last month even though he was in the midst of reopening his case.
  • Daniel Vargas, an activist and recipient of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), who was arrested by ICE in March last year after speaking at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Several members of Migrant Justice, an organization advocating for the rights immigrant farmworkers and their families in Vermont.
  • Maru Mora-Villalpando, a widely known immigrant rights leader in Washington state, who was served with a “Notice to Appear for Removal Proceedings” by ICE in December.

These outrageous political police attacks on immigrant leaders and those speaking out against anti-immigrant attacks are part of the overall moves by the Trump/Pence regime to consolidate fascist rule. This is intolerable—and must NOT be allowed!

As has said: “Action is urgently needed, by thousands, and then millions, of native-born Americans and citizens—including especially but not only white people—through active refusal and in every other way to stand with our sisters and brothers in demonstrations and other forms of solidarity. Such solidarity is critically important—it is life-and-death, right now, for millions—and it can play a critical role as well in building the spirit and organization needed to drive out this whole wretched and extremely dangerous fascist regime.”


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.