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Ravi Ragbir asks Greenwich Village church attendees to promote culture of inclusion, outreach

“What I want us to do is ... say that we are here for others,” Ragbir said.

Immigration rights leader Ravi Ragbir, right, spoke to

Immigration rights leader Ravi Ragbir, right, spoke to attendees at Judson Memorial Church on Sunday, March 4, 2018. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Ravi Ragbir, the immigrant rights leader whose detainment sparked several protests earlier this year, told a Greenwich Village church congregation on Sunday they needed to focus on outreach and making others feel safe.

Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was arrested on Jan. 11 when he showed up for a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A judge ordered his release on Jan. 29, and he was granted a stay of deportation last month.

Ragbir told the congregants of the Judson Memorial Church on Sunday that they should be creative in their outreach efforts.

“What I want us to do is . . . say that we are here for others,” he said. “I think we need to challenge people and this is a safe space for that. I want you to extend that safety to others.”

Ragbir said that many people are facing deportation, and pointed to himself — a green card holder — as still fearing deportation.

Ragbir was issued a green card in 1994 after coming to the United States from Trinidad, but served 30 months in a federal prison after he was convicted of wire fraud in 2001. He was then detained in 2006 after a judge ordered deportation because of his conviction, but was released in 2008 when ICE determined he wasn’t a danger to the community, according to his defense team. A challenge to that conviction also is still pending in federal court.

Following the church service, congregants hung a few dozen orange-and-white ribbons on the railing facing the street, some with names and others with messages of unity written on them. The ribbons, according to a plaque, represented people “incarcerated in immigration jails due to our unjust, racist, and xenophobic immigration laws.”

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