He had been allowed to stay in the country while his attorneys appealed the deportation, but during a routine check-in with ICE on Jan. 11 in downtown Manhattan, Ragbir was arrested.

Activists had been calling for his release for days, and on Monday a judge ordered a temporary stay, granting him “the freedom to say goodbye.” He is scheduled for another hearing on Feb. 9, one day before his scheduled deportation.

Ragbir and his wife attended the State of the Union address Tuesday night, courtesy of invites from U.S. representatives Nydia Velázquez and Yvette Clarke. Ragbir said he was appalled by the president’s calls for stricter immigration policies, and was struck by the significance of going from an immigration detention center to Washington, D.C.

“I went from the belly of the beast, the monster, the effect, to the cause,” he said.

Ragbir thanked his supporters and the council members for their hard work, singling out Williams and Rodriguez, who were among the 18 arrested outside the ICE office earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said one of the officers who was involved in the arrest that day has been transferred to patrol duty.

Johnson said he wants to get to the bottom of what happened that day, but Rodriguez and Williams encouraged everyone in attendance to focus on the bigger picture.

“This is not about Jumaane and I. This is about Ravi,” said Rodriguez.