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Judge orders release of activist Ravi Ragbir awaiting deportation

NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York City has ordered the immediate release of a prominent immigration activist, saying his detention was "unnecessarily cruel."

Applause broke out in a packed Manhattan courtroom Monday after Judge Katherine Forrest announced that Ravi Ragbir must be released.

The citizen of Trinidad has been fighting deportation after a fraud conviction on Jan 11.

“It’s an intense violence, and psychological warfare that they’re waging on the community," Ragbir said. "We would think they’re only talking about immigration and immigrant’s but we’re talking about all people of color."

Forrest read aloud a written ruling saying that Ragbir and those like him across the country ought to have "the freedom to say goodbye" when they are not a threat to flee or a danger to the community.

"There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye…It ought not to be – and it has never before been – that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away. We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it.”

Lawyers for Ragbir contended their client was targeted by a biased government official upset after witnessing Ragbir's organization and Ragbir himself protesting outside his office.

A government lawyer said there was no evidence to support that.

An ICE spokesman says the agency is moving forward with Ragbir’s case.

“The agency is…concerned with the tone of the district court’s decision, which equates the difficult work ICE professionals do every day to enforce our immigration laws with ‘treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust’, and is actively exploring its appellate options.”