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SPLC wins stay of deportation for journalist whose work challenged ICE

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of removal today for Spanish-language journalist Manuel Duran.

Without the stay, Duran – who was unlawfully arrested and detained in retaliation for reporting on controversial issues related to law enforcement in Tennessee – could have been deported at any time.

Earlier this month, the court granted a temporary, two-week stay that expired today. The stay that the court issued today will remain in place until Duran’s appeal has concluded.

“We are grateful and pleased that the court acted to stay Mr. Duran’s deportation so that his appeal may be fully heard,” said Kristi Graunke, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC. “As a journalist who has dedicated his career to reporting on government misconduct, Mr. Duran faces serious danger if he is deported to El Salvador. We will continue to fight for his freedom and to ensure he receives a fair hearing on his asylum claims.”

Duran has been detained for over seven months at LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana, after working as a reporter in Memphis, Tennessee, for more than 10 years. The SPLC took his case after he was placed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody following his arrest by Memphis police in April.

Duran is a respected reporter who wrote for the Spanish-language publication he founded: Memphis Noticias. He was known for his investigative journalism. His work frequently highlighted issues of importance to Memphis’ Spanish-speaking community, including local law enforcement’s collaboration with ICE.

On April 3, Duran was covering a Memphis event relating to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The demonstration included a protest of local law enforcement’s practice of detaining suspected immigrants and handing them over to ICE.

During the event, Duran wore his yellow press badge and did not engage in the protest. He was following police orders to step away from the protesters when an officer pointed to him and yelled, “Get him, guys.”

Because his reporting exposed ties between local police and ICE in detaining immigrants, Duran was singled out and arrested amid a pool of other journalists covering the protest. He was falsely accused of disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic.

Duran is like thousands of other immigrants facing deportation, who face lengthy detention even if they have meritorious claims. Held captive in detention centers for months and sometimes years, they are forced to endure terrible conditions and separation from loved ones and their communities.