IRLI takes aim at criminal alien’s First Amendment challenge to deportation
WASHINGTON—On Friday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of the government’s removal of a criminal alien. In 2007, Ravidath Ragbir, a lawful permanent resident, was convicted of wire fraud. Because that offense is an aggravated felony under our immigration laws, he was ordered removed from the United States. He did not go quickly, however. For ten years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) granted him stay of removal after stay of removal, putting off his court-ordered departure and allowing him to continue to live and work in the United States. These stays were issued even though Ragbir, ever since his removal was ordered, has been a vocal critic of our immigration laws, even heading a non-profit organization dedicated to protesting ICE.
After the election of President Trump, ICE declined to grant Ragbir another administrative stay of removal. Ragbir sued, charging that the long-delayed enforcement of his removal order was in retaliation for his First Amendment-protected speech criticizing ICE.
In its brief, IRLI stresses that the courts may not review Ragbir’s First Amendment claim because the Immigration and Nationality Act strips them of jurisdiction to do so. IRLI also argues that even if the court decided it had jurisdiction, the real reason Ragbir’s removal order was executed was not his speech, but a change of ICE policy brought on by President Trump’s executive order that aliens with final orders of removal pending against them be removed promptly. IRLI also points out that the First Amendment does not insulate Ragbir, or anyone else, from law enforcement. If it were otherwise, criminals could always shield themselves from arrest by speaking out against the very laws they were breaking.
“From 2002 to 2017, there was a 58 percent increase in unexecuted orders of removal. President Trump has rightfully prioritized the enforcement of these orders,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “To allow Mr. Ragbir or other aliens to exempt themselves from removal by speaking out against our immigration system would put them—rather than our elected representatives—in charge of whether they could remain in the country, and also give an unfair advantage to the loudest and most radical aliens. Nothing in the Constitution mandates such an upside down result.”
The case is Ragbir v. Homan, No. 18-1597 (Second Circuit).
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