BY CHRIS GOLDEN
Two high-profile illegal immigrants who attained a degree of fame through their activism have been detained and/or deported by the Trump administration after receiving repeated stays in the past, The Daily Caller has reported.
Ravidath Ragbir and Jean Montrevil, both prominent figures within the pro-illegal immigration group New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, were detained and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after years of being allowed to stay in the country at the discretion of federal officials — in spite of the fact that both had been convicted of serious crimes.
According to the New York Daily News, Ragbir was detained by ICE on Jan. 11 and informed that that his reprieve from deportation would not be extended further.
Ragbir, executive director of New Sanctuary, was checking in at the ICE office in New York City when he was detained. While Ragbir had immigrated to the United States legally back in 1991 from Trinidad and Tobago, he was convicted of wire fraud in 2000, according to The New York Times.
Ragbir received a deportation order in 2006, but in 2011 ICE officials in New York City gave him a reprieve of deportation. That reprieve was extended last April, but ICE officials informed Ragbir that reprieve would not be extended further. A judge will now decide his fate.
One week later, Haitian national Jean Montrevil — a co-founder of New Sanctuary — was deported after being taken into custody in early January. Montrevil, who had entered the United States in 1986, had served time on a drug possession charge and was in the process of appealing a deportation order.
According to The Intercept, Montrevil’s lawyer said his client “believed that he had reached an understanding with ICE officials.”
The general consensus among members of the activist community was that these arrests were targeted acts.
“It seems really clear to us that this is an escalation of retaliation, not just against individual rights leaders, but against the right of the movement to exist,” Mary Small, policy director for immigrant rights activist group Detention Watch Network, told The New York Times.
While it was perhaps a sign that ICE feels emboldened to go after activists as well as everyday illegal immigrants and those with deportation orders, this hardly seems to be “retaliation” or “escalation.” If it is, it is only in the sense that the government has refused to enforce deportation orders, which — at least to some activists — ought to be totally meaningless.
As for the idea that this is “targeting” — well, Al Capone and Meyer Lansky got “targeted” with tax evasion charges. That doesn’t make it wrong at all. And was this “targeting” uncalled for? Not by any means.
Montrevil and Ragbir didn’t control criminal empires like Capone and Lansky, but they provided activist support for millions of individuals who are in this country illegally.
This isn’t agenda-driven policing. It isn’t using the power of law enforcement to silence critics of the administration who’ve done nothing wrong. Mr. Montrevil and Mr. Ragbir made themselves targets. Not only did they violate the law, they brought attention upon themselves for doing so. They tried to invite sympathy upon themselves, essentially, for being convicts who had to face the consequences of those convictions.
Montrevil served five years in prison and was sentenced to 11 (indicative of a case of drug possession that was far more serious than just getting caught with a bag of cocaine, no matter how activists wish to spin it). In fact, he was set to be deported under the Obama administration in 2010, but a fellow detainee with a fever delayed his removal, and then an earthquake in the intervening days made it impossible, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, Ragbir spent time in prison on a $400,000 embezzlement scheme and has obtained several stays of deportation since, seemingly hiding behind his quasi-celebrity in the “Democracy Now!”-viewership community. Indeed, Ragbir’s wife Amy Gottlieb wrote a piece for The New York Times published Thursday that was all-too-subtly titled “ICE Detained My Husband for Being an Activist.”
Ms. Gottlieb waits until the fourth paragraph to mention the small detail that her husband was being deported because he committed a crime. She mentions that it occurred 18 years ago as if it were a point in his favor, gliding over the fact that Ragbir has obtained numerous stays from federal officials.
These are the crimes they have committed thata have more or less been affirmed by the courts. But these illegal immigrants not only claim it’s their right to stay in the country after committing a crime, they claim it’s more or less every immigrant’s right to stay in the country after they’ve committed a crime. They made themselves some of the biggest names in the immigration debate — and when it comes to crime, the government is known to go after the biggest names.
On a personal level, with all due sympathy to Mr. Montrevil and Mr. Ragbir and the disruption this may cause to their respective families, they are the authors of this mess. Montrevil and Ragbir aren’t just innocent characters caught up in a web of nationalist intrigue, no matter how the press wants to frame it.
Both committed and were convicted of crimes, something they knew or ought to have known would likely end in their expulsion from this country. Any pain and anguish caused to their families and those around them is due to them and them alone. Hiding behind the cloak of “activism” cannot and should not erase this.