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ICE sued for allegedly targeting immigration activists for deportation

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Immigration rights groups are suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for allegedly targeting immigration activists for possible deportation.

The lawsuit, reported on by The Intercept, claims that ICE was targeting outspoken immigration activists for surveillance and deportation “in order to silence them.”

“Defendants have investigated, surveilled, harassed, raided, arrested, detained, and even deported these activists in order to silence them,” the lawsuit reads. “This sharp spike in immigration enforcement specifically targeting the most vocal immigration activists is intended to stifle dissent.”

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“The Government’s targeting of activists on the basis of their core political speech is unfair, discriminatory, and un-American. And it violates the First Amendment,” the complaint states.

One of the plaintiffs, immigration rights activist Ravi Ragbir, was arrested last month. He has been contesting a deportation order since 2006 and had been granted a delay on the order, but was detained by ICE agents last month during a routine visit.

Federal authorities have granted a stay on Ragbir’s deportation order.

“Like so many people who are living in this country under the threat of deportation, I know how important it is to raise our voices against the injustices in the system,” Ragbir said in a statement Friday. “This lawsuit is not just about me, it is about all of the members of our community who are speaking out in our struggle for immigrant rights.”

The lawsuit follows a report by The Intercept about immigration activists’ fears that they were being surveilled by federal officials.

Joining Ragbir in the lawsuit are the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, Casa de Maryland, the Detention Watch Network, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the New York Immigration Coalition.

The groups have named ICE, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice as defendants, along with two top ICE officials in the agency’s New York office.

The lawsuit comes amid a crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration, including threats to pull funding from so-called sanctuary cities, which don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Tags ICE; immigration; Ravi Ragbir Jeff Sessions Kirstjen Nielsen

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