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Detained Journalist Manuel Duran’s Case Ordered Reopened

GADSDEN, Ala. – The Board of Immigration Appeals has ordered detained journalist Manuel Duran’s case reopened, paving the way for an asylum claim and possible release after over 15 months in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

“I am satisfied today to receive this good news. I have received so much bad news during this process, and this is the first good news,” Duran said. “Now, I am hopeful that things will continue to go well and I can soon be free. As always, I am thankful to those who have helped me.” 

Duran may now petition the immigration court for a bond to be released from detention.

“We are incredibly pleased that Mr. Duran will finally have his asylum claim heard and may be reunited with his family,” said SPLC Attorney Gracie Willis, “We have long argued that his detention is unjust, unreasonable and a waste of resources. It is especially disturbing that he and so many others are continuing to be held indefinitely in remote immigration jails while the same agencies holding them claim they are overrun and require more jails to be built. 

“It is unconscionable that it has taken 15 months and several appeals to put one detained asylum- seeker in a position to be released from detention. Our broken immigration system has needlessly traumatized Mr. Duran and his family,” Willis said.

Earlier this year, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent Duran’s case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to fully consider evidence of increasingly dangerous conditions faced by journalists in El Salvador, as well as Duran’s other claims for relief. The 11th Circuit’s order, as well as its earlier decision halting Duran’s deportation, can be viewed here and here.

Duran was arrested in April 2018 while covering a Memphis protest focused on local law enforcement’s practice of detaining suspected immigrants and handing them over to ICE.  Duran’s previous investigative reporting had exposed this collusion between ICE and local law enforcement and its negative impact on Memphis communities. 

His case has received national attention as several major organizations focusing on the mistreatment of journalists across the globe filed amicus briefs on his behalf, including the American Society of News Editors, Associated Press Media Editors, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Hispanic Media Coalition, PEN America, and Reporters Without Borders.

“We are so grateful to all those in the Memphis community who supported Manuel, and all those who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, highlighting the need to protect the cherished First Amendment freedoms at the heart of these proceedings,” Willis said.
The Board of Immigration Appeals ruling can be viewed here

In addition to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Duran has been represented and supported by Latino Memphis and Adelante Alabama Worker Center.