Ravi Ragbir, immigrant-rights leader fighting deportation, will preach in Brooklyn on Sunday at St. & and the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and be honored with "The Bishop's Cross"
Ravi Ragbir, an internationally known leader of the immigrant-rights movement in the United States and executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition will receive one of the Episcopal Church’s highest honors and preach at historic St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights at 11:15 am this Sunday, February 4.
A New Sanctuary Coalition spokesperson said, “Mr. Ragbir’s invitation to preach and the extraordinary recognition come as the escalating mistreatment of immigrants in America has become a central national issue. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has focused in past weeks on detaining and deporting leaders and activists within the growing immigrant-rights movement. At least five movement leaders have been swept up recently by ICE in what is widely seen as an effort to silence popular opposition to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.”
Numerous political, community, and faith group leaders from the New York region are expected to attend the service.
The “Bishop’s Cross” will be awarded to Ravi Ragbir by the Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano, bishop of the Diocese of Long Island, which includes Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Bishop’s Cross honors individuals of exceptional service to the church and to the communities it serves.
Bishop Provenzano said, “As Christians, we are called to serve the most vulnerable among us. 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. For our diocese and the wider church community, this is an opportunity to give him thanks for his extraordinary witness.”
The Rev. John Denaro, rector of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church said, "It is this church's call and our privilege to welcome Ravi into our sanctuary and to stand with him in the pursuit of justice for all vulnerable immigrants."
The Diocese of Long Island convention last November overwhelmingly passed a resolution titled “On Long Island Becoming a Sanctuary Diocese” that urged all congregations “to consider providing sanctuary to immigrants and migrants” who are “targeted by xenophobia, racism and discrimination.”
That convention also named St. Ann & the Holy Trinity a “pro-cathedral” of the diocese, providing the bishop with an additional official seat and pulpit to better address concerns in Brooklyn and Queens, which have large immigrant populations.
The Long Island diocese has long supported efforts of the New Sanctuary Coalition, a 10-year-old, faith-based organization of 150 houses of worship and thousands of citizens and non-citizens of all faiths to support and protect immigrants threatened by detention and deportation.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION PROVIDED BY NEW SANCTUARY COALITION (NSC)
Mr. Ragbir was detained by ICE at a regular check-in on January 11, 2018, placed under heavy guard in shackles, and was immediately rushed to a plane and flown to a cell in Miami, FL, to be deported.
He was released on January 29 from immigration jail by a federal judge in New York who expressed “grave concern” over charges that ICE is misusing U.S. immigration laws to silence immigrant-rights leaders in violation of the First Amendment. The federal court order ended Mr. Ragbir’s illegal detention by ICE, but he still faces a legal fight against deportation—a battle he has been waging for more than a decade.
His 2006 deportation order is based on a 2001 conviction for wire fraud, a conviction that Mr. Ragbir’s lawyers are challenging in court. A hearing on that matter is scheduled in early February in New Jersey. An appeal of the deportation order itself is pending before the U.S. Bureau of Immigration Appeals.
Mr. Ragbir’s case has attracted media attention around the world and his supporters include more than 30 members of Congress, dozens of city and state elected officials, 1,800 faith based and community organizations and thousands of individuals. Vigils, prayers and demonstrations in the New York region have been held almost daily for Mr. Ragbir and for all the other immigrants facing detention and deportation by ICE.
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