Ravi Ragbir, a personal friend and colleague in immigration advocacy, is facing deportation back to Trinidad. He won a year-long reprieve last year from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and for the past ten months, he has continued to challenge his deportation order and the criminal conviction for which the government wants to deport him. However, with both of these legal challenges still pending in the courts, his time is quickly running out once again. When his stay of removal expires on February 14, 2014, he will be asking the government for Deferred Action, which would allow him to remain in this country for longer than another year. This would provide Ravi and his family with more certainty and stability in the short-term, as he pursues attempts to fight his deportation order and criminal conviction.
I wrote the following letter today to Chris Shanahan, the New York Field Office Director for ICE, requesting that Deferred Action be granted in his case. Ravi is a credit not only to his family and community but also to immigration advocates everywhere.
Dear Director Shanahan:
I am writing to request that you exercise prosecutorial discretion to grant deferred action in the case of Ravi Ragbir (A# 044-248-862). Ravi is currently at risk of being deported to Trinidad. But his family and friends are here in the United States, and we need him to stay with us to continue his inspiring work and ministry with the immigrant community. As a friend and professional colleague of Ravi, I have seen Ravi’s work in person and the difference he has made in the life of his community.
I first met Ravi as a volunteer with the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, and we became fast friends. I can speak from personal experience of his unyielding personal integrity and capacity for deep and meaningful relationships. Ravi has been there for me in times of my distress, and I value our friendship.
As the Site Director for New York Justice For Our Neighbors, which is part of a national network of church-based, volunteer-supported immigration legal clinics sponsored by the United Methodist Church, I have also worked with Ravi professionally and can speak to Ravi’s tireless work on behalf of the immigrant community. I have been deeply moved to watch Ravi welcome and support immigrants who are trying to start new lives in our country, despite his own immigration struggles, which might have made a lesser man give up hope or feel embittered.
Finally, as a seminarian in the Master of Divinity Program at General Theological Seminary pursuing ordination in the Episcopal Church, I wish to end this letter of support with an observation on Ravi’s faith in God, which continues to sustain him in these difficult times. Ravi’s life speaks to the power of redemption and capacity for change that our shared Christian faith teaches us is God’s promise of grace to us. This Christmas season reminds us that Ravi’s life is a test for those of us who are citizens of this country who call ourselves Christians–a test of our capacity to see Christ in those who are strangers and immigrants in our midst.