Leading NYC immigrant activist and sanctuary advocate Ravi Ragbir walked out of his annual Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in on Thursday morning with fleeting good news for hundreds of supporters gathered in Foley Square—an ICE agent had agreed not to place him in deportation proceedings, for now.

The crowd cheered as Ragbir exited the courthouse, arms linked with New York City Council Members Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez. But the mood shifted as his attorney clarified that Ragbir has been told to return for another check-in in one month.

"We are saddened by news that we received in the check-in appointment," said attorney Alina Das. "They asked Ravi to check in again in one month and make efforts again to get a travel document. We don't know what this means."

"We are deeply saddened that he is being asked, and his family is being asked, to go through this fear and uncertainty again," she added.

Ragbir, who has faced the threat of deportation since a wire fraud conviction in 2001, has recently considered his fate an open question. His current deportation stay remains in effect until 2018, according to his lawyer, but ICE could possibly revoke it. "I'm preparing for the worst," he told Gothamist last week. "I'm not planning any appointments after March 9th. I've cleaned out my apartment."

"We are creating a set of people that don't have the same rights as everyone else," said Laura Clark, 50, of Harlem, after Ragbi's status was clarified. She and other protesters had circled the courthouse, singing and praying, during the brief meeting. "We, out of fear, are doing this because some people believe it's making them safe. But if you stop and think what it means to create a group of people who are afraid to have contact with elected officials, who are afraid to talk to police, afraid to stand up for their rights, how can we possibly think we are going to make this country better?"

Ragbi himself took the mic on Thursday, but said it was too hard to speak, passing it off. He later clarified his concern. "They asked if I have a passport," he said. "And when they ask for that it usually means one thing."

Angela Fernandez, director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, elaborated. "He could have easily been placed in detention today," she said. "But of course you can't be deported until you have valid travel documents. So that's why the request for his passport was a concern."

"We're thrilled that Ravi is here with us, but it sucks that he has to go back in April," his wife, Amy Gottlieb, told the crowd.

Ragbir immigrated to the United States from Trinidad in 1991. Ten years later, a young father married to a US citizen, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. After three years of house arrest and 30 months in federal prison, Ragbir was issued a deportation order that he's been fighting ever since. He's benefited since 2011 from a legal policy called prosecutorial discretion, by which ICE ranks certain deportation orders as low priority.

Ragbir, with his deep roots in the US, fits the bill for leniency. But ramped-up ICE raids and a hardline attitude in immigration court suggest that ICE has already become less flexible under President Trump. Ragbir said the shift was palpable during his check-in, as well. "They used to let my wife in, my minister in," he said.

"I think if they moved to try to detain and deport him now we'd have a legal challenge, but we don't want it to come to that," Das said.

Council Member Williams later said that his visit inside the check-in center was upsetting.

"What I saw up there was crazy," he told reporters. "It was the most un-American thing I have seen in a very long time..... I see a room full of terrified people facing deportation with no legal representation at all—grandmothers in [security] bracelets, single parents with children waiting to hear if they were deported or not."

Ragbir is head of the New Sanctuary Coalition, an interfaith network that advocates for immigrant families facing detention and deportation.

"He's organized 30 churches into a sanctuary network," said Reverend Billy of the Stop Shopping Choir. "Even when he himself is imperiled he automatically turns to others and helps them."

Ragbir took the mic again on Thursday, and briefly addressed the crowd, apparently struggling to hold back tears. He asked for another show of solidarity before his April 11th check-in, amid shouts of "We love you Ravi!" and "You you're not alone!"

"You think I would be happy to be out, and I am happy to be out here to sing with you and talk to you," he told the crowd. "But I have to go through this again."

"How [can] I have this knife, this guillotine over my neck, and be able to function?"

Reporting by Jake Offenhartz.