Two New York City Council members were among those arrested following protests after an immigration rights activist was detained by federal immigration officials during a routine check-in.
Police and protesters clashed outside the Javits Federal Building in New York City on Thursday, resulting in 18 arrests over the detention of Ravi Ragbir, according to the New York Daily News.
Ragbir is an activist and legal permanent resident who's been contesting a deportation order since 2006 and was granted prosecutorial discretion. Under prosecutorial discretion, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) delays execution of a final order of deportation for immigrants who are considered low priority.
Under President TrumpDonald TrumpFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Giving thanks for Thanksgiving itself Immigration provision in Democrats' reconciliation bill makes no sense MORE, ICE has curtailed prosecutorial discretion, deporting many immigrants who show up to their annual check-ins.
A crowd of nearly 300 people amassed outside the federal building as Ragbir showed up to his check-in with officials, according to several reports.
Ragbir, a Trinidadian citizen, reportedly passed out while in custody and was put in an ambulance to be taken to a hospital.
Protesters, including Councilmen Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), blocked the ambulance's path.
Protesters feared the ambulance would take Ragbir to another ICE facility, but it instead evaded protesters and headed to Bellevue Hospital, according to the Daily News.
Williams and Rodriguez were arrested in the scuffle after trying to block the ambulance.
"This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights. This is NOT what democracy looks like. We can’t call ourselves progressives and pro-immigrants when the @NYPDnews is doing chokehold to us,” tweeted Rodriguez after his arrest.
This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights. This is NOT what democracy looks like. We can’t call ourselves progressives and pro-immigrants when the @NYPDnews is doing chokehold to us. Injusticia! @NYCMayorsOffice @DHSgov @ICEgov #ImmigrationReform pic.twitter.com/5Y9cRToA3C— Ydanis Rodriguez (@ydanis) January 11, 2018
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, called for Ragbir's release Thursday.
“Ravi is an acclaimed community leader, a loving father, and a steadfast immigrant rights activist. His detention is entirely unwarranted and reflects the Trump administration’s predatory behavior in New York City and across the country. Ravi must be released immediately,” said Crowley.
But an ICE spokeswoman told the Daily News that Ragbir had "exhausted" his legal options.
“[He] does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said. “He will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad.”
Ragbir's 2006 order of deportation came after a fraud conviction he says he is seeking to vacate.
He is married to Amy Gottlieb, a U.S. citizen and fellow immigration activist, but has been unable to regularize his immigration status through marriage because of his prior conviction.