NEW YORK – A church in Brooklyn has honored the Trinidadian-born immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir, who is facing deportation, for “exceptional service to the church and to the community it serves.”
Ragbir, 43, received the Bishop’s Cross from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island during a service on Sunday.
The rare honour was bestowed in recognition of Ragbir’s work on behalf of “persecuted immigrants caught up in mean-spirited [US] federal”.
Ragbir faces deportation as early as Saturday, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials detained him last month during a routine check.
Ragbir, who leads the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, was released from US federal custody last week in time to attend President Trump’s State of the Union address with his wife as guests of New York Congressional Representatives Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who have both been critical of the President’s immigration policies.
“They think I am a threat,” Ragbir told reporters after the service. “But if I have a bishop, city council members, a community of allies saying they don’t want me deported, then I can show the community supports me.”
Ragbir spent two weeks in federal custody after his January 11 arrest before a judge ruled that keeping him behind bars was “unnecessarily cruel.”
“As Christians, we are called to serve the most vulnerable among us,” said the Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which serves Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York.
“Ravi’s dedication to those affected by unjust immigration policies, even at great personal risk, is an inspirational example of how to live out that call,” he said.
Ragbir had been granted permanent residency in 1994, but it was revoked after a wire fraud conviction seven years later. – CMC