Today is Day 19 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to write to your members of Congress and tell them that we need compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
My name is Ravi Ragbir, and I am a longtime resident of the United States, as well as a community activist, father, and husband. Despite being heavily involved in my community, I live with the constant threat of permanent exile casting a shadow over my life.
My immigration story began when I came to the U.S. from Trinidad in 1991 on a visitor’s visa. In 1994, I became a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and my daughter, Deborah, was born the next year. Based on a single conviction for fraud, I was detained and ordered deported in 2006 by an immigration judge—without a hearing on my family ties and contributions to this country. I was subject to mandatory, indefinite detention for years in New Jersey and Alabama, far from my community and young daughter.
Through my own struggle to remain here, I became active in supporting other immigrants who were facing similar challenges, and I later met, fell in love with, and eventually married my wife Amy Gottlieb, a U.S. citizen and fellow immigrant rights activist. Though I am eligible to become a permanent resident based on my marriage, the Board of Immigration Appeals recently denied my request. I am currently appealing this decision so that I can remain with my wife and daughter in the United States, the place I have called home for over twenty years.
Immigration reform must keep families together. Click here to tell your representatives that you support compassionate immigration reform.
My detention and ongoing deportation case have deprived my daughter of a breadwinner and parent, and left my entire family feeling helpless and hopeless. My daughter has suffered the most through my detention. Despite my release from immigration detention, Deborah still does not feel secure because she knows that I can be deported if I lose my appeal. Deborah once confided in me, “Somewhere lurking in my mind, a voice tells me: well, don’t be happy — your dad could be leaving tomorrow so get ready to say goodbye.”
After I was released from immigration custody, I joined Families for Freedom, a network of immigrants facing and fighting deportation. I have also trained other advocates, allies, community organizers, and elected officials about immigration issues and how to reform the deportation system. I meet regularly with policymakers to discuss detention and deportation policy, and I know how important it is for our elected officials to hear from people like you to ensure that immigration reform is compassionate and respects the worth and dignity of all human beings.
For today’s action, contact your elected representatives, and demand that we stand on the side of love with immigrant families! Click here to take action.
In 2010, Ravi became a fulltime organizer for the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, one of the largest coalitions in the city focused on immigrant rights, with over 20 faith-based and supporting organizations, representing over 3,000 New Yorkers. Ravi is also part of the larger Trinidadian and Indian diaspora and he volunteers his time to visit churches on Sundays to speak at services about the impact of immigration policies on the community.