Illegal immigrants snared by deportation officers have “the freedom to say goodbye” to their families, a federal judge in New York ruled Monday, ordering the government to release a prominent activist to his family.
Judge Katherine B. Forrest, whom President Obama appointed to the bench, said the government was following the law when it picked up Ravidath Lawrence Ragbir, the illegal immigrant. But she said “larger, more fundamental” rights were at stake.
“In sum, the court finds that when this country allowed petitioner to become a part of our community fabric, allowed him to build a life with and among us and to enjoy the liberties and freedom that come with that, it committed itself to allowance of an orderly departure when the time came,” she wrote. “By denying petitioner these rights, the government has acted wrongly.”
She becomes the latest federal district judge to delve deeply into immigration — an area Congress has said belongs to the separate immigration court system and to appellate judges, not district court judges.
Other cases are raging over deportations of Iraqis and Indonesians. Federal judges have taken unprecedented steps to stop deportations and rule on individual cases.
Judge Forrest said her ruling doesn’t mean Mr. Ragbir is safe from deportation.
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