Bummer: Immigrant Ordered Leave U.S. Is Not An “Object For Removal” Or Something

According to the law, he is. And, perhaps he shouldn’t have violated the law, which has made his wife, Amy Gotlieb, write this cute little opinion piece

A message to ICE: My husband is not an object ‘for removal’

This month, my husband, Ravi Ragbir, received a new appointment letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The reason for the appointment, the letter said, is “for removal.”

“For removal,” as if Ravi, a prominent immigrant-rights activist and the person I love and have chosen to spend the rest of my life with, were a broken vacuum cleaner set out in the trash with a note for the Department of Sanitation to take him away.

An immigrant from Trinidad, Ravi has lived in the United States for almost 25 years and has faced the threat of deportation since 2006, when his green card was taken away after he completed a sentence for a wire-fraud conviction (which he is challenging in court). Under the Trump administration, the threats of deportation have escalated. In January, he was detained during a routine check-in with ICE and was incarcerated for 18 days in a detention center under threat of immediate deportation. It was only because of massive amounts of community pressure and quick work by his lawyers that he was released. He remains in the United States because of the federal judges who recognize that he should be here with his community as his case continues.

Let’s go back to that part about a conviction for wire fraud. Ravi actually came to the United States illegally, but somehow earned a green card. His green card was taken away, meaning he has no lawful status in the U.S. He could have taken the time to apply for citizenship prior to that wire fraud conviction (he can challenge it all he wants, it was back in 2000), but, not, he didn’t. We have laws in place, and, if he and his wife do not like them, too bad.

Ravi is my family — loved and respected by so many. But according to ICE — the same agency that faces accusations of abuse, racial profiling and violations of civil rights — he must be removed. Removed from his community and removed from the people he loves.

Go with him. And next time alert him to the fact that wire fraud is against the law. This rests squarely on his shoulders. And, it’s not ICE ordering deportation: it’s a judge that approves this.

I have been an immigrant-rights attorney for 20 years, but the cold, annihilating language of “removal” chills me now more than ever. The word replaced “deportation” in 1996 as part of a large and ultimately devastating overhaul to our immigration laws signed by President Bill Clinton. The legislation made it both easier to deport people and more difficult for people to adjust their immigration status legally. It created mandatory detention and deportation, and drastically limited the authority of immigration judges to consider a person’s good qualities when deciding a case.

As an immigration lawyer and immigrant-rights activist, I have been advocating for the repeal of those laws and have regularly spoken out about their impact on immigrants. In the past, I have refused to use the word “removal.” It has always seemed so flat and distant from what deportation really means: exiling someone from their family and their community.

She’s more worried about the word than people who have consciously broken U.S. federal law.

As anyone who knows Ravi would agree, my husband is the type of person this country should be welcoming. To do that, we need to abolish the agency that has stripped immigrants of their dignity. And we need to repeal laws that tear apart families and create an immigration system that supports our values of love, respect and community. Because, after all, no one should be treated as if they were disposable.

So, we should be welcoming people who come to this country illegally, commit actual crimes which hurt other people, then demand we legalize him and others? No. And the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agrees, refusing to issue a stay of deportation on August 15th.

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3 Responses to “Bummer: Immigrant Ordered Leave U.S. Is Not An “Object For Removal” Or Something”

  1. Hoss says:

    I don’t think the left is going to like it when everyone else starts treating laws a la carte. I keep thinking of Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy asking “Yeah, but what if somebody has something, but I want it more.” You start making excuses for why some can break the laws, don’t be surprised when others start doing the same.

    • Jeffery says:


      We’ve always treated laws “a la carte”. For example, Paul Manafort has breaking US laws for a decade, raking in millions, cheating on his taxes, and is just now being held accountable. Multiply that by a hundred thousand crooked “businessmen” (likely including Trump Inc).

      We don’t enforce jaywalking, marijuana, speeding (the law says 65! so if you’re going 67, you’re breaking the law), income taxes (unless you’re working class).. you can probably think of others.

      Police and prosecutors have always used discretion. Judges have discretion in sentencing.

      • formwiz says:

        You’ve got him convicted already? Just on Mule Ears’ say-so? I thought we had jury trials for that sort of thing.

        Well, it’s nice to see you’ve already resigned yourself to the idea the jury has been allowed to see what an un-American witch hunt this has been.

        There may be hope for you yet.

        But I doubt it.

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