NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Immigration activist Ravi Ragbir and his wife, Amy Gottlieb, were in Washington Tuesday for the State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Gottlieb will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) at the speech. Ragbir, who was ordered freed from jail Monday by a federal judge, spoke by phone Tuesday with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott, along with Gottlieb.
Ragbir said even though he is out of jail, “the problem is I’m not really free.”
“Even though I’m out here with my family, my wife Amy, and speaking to you, they told me I have to go back to them on Saturday, February 10, to be deported,” Ragbir said. “So the noose has not loosened around my neck, and it is still the same intensity; the same anxiety – not only myself, but everyone is feeling around me.”
Ragbir said he is marking off the calendar “by minutes” until he has to report again, and it appears he will be deported unless something changes.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took Ragbir into custody on Jan. 11 during what was supposed to be a routine check-in. His detention sparked a large protest, which ended with the arrest of two City Council members.
Rep. Velazquez believes Ragbir was targeted because of his outspoken stance on immigration.
Gottlieb said she will attend the State of the Union with Velazquez “as a symbol of the need to humanize immigration.”
She said the goal is to “show that we are strong and standing up, and we are going to continue to fight for Ravi to remain here.”
Gottlieb described her husband’s arrest as a “horrifying” experience.
“To have watched him be taken away in handcuffs from me the day that he presented himself for a regularly-scheduled check-in at ICE, you know, to the two days that I actually had no idea where he was and found out he was detained in Florida until they brought him up to a county jail in New York where he was, you know, in a prison cell, and you know, cost me a couple hundred dollars just to have a few phone conversations during the few weeks he was detained at Orange County Jail,” she said.
She added that for her family and everyone Ragbir knows, “It’s heart-wrenching to see a person just sort of snatched away.”
Ragbir’s legal status in the country was stripped away in 2006, because of a past conviction.