One Year After Arrest, Memphis Journalist Manuel Duran Still Jailed by ICE, Showing the Injustice of U.S. Immigration System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
April 3, 2019

Contact: Jeff Migliozzi
jeff.migliozzi@splcenter.org / (334) 303-1261

Duran Continues Fight with Habeas Filing

Memphis, Tenn. – On April 3 of last year, journalist Manuel Duran was arrested while covering a Memphis protest focused on local law enforcement’s practice of detaining suspected immigrants and handing them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Duran’s previous investigative reporting had exposed this collusion between ICE and local law enforcement and its negative impact on Memphis communities.  A year after his arrest, and despite court rulings indicating he has meritorious claims for relief from deportation, Duran still finds himself detained by ICE and separated from his family.

Today, Duran filed a habeas petition in federal court in Alabama seeking his release from the infamous Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, arguing that his year-long detention violates immigration law and the United States Constitution.  He is represented in his habeas petition by attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Adelante Alabama Worker Center.

This morning, Duran shared the following statement from the Etowah County Detention Center:
“I have been detained a year and regrettably, due to the circumstances of detention, it has not been easy for me.  Being detained has affected me psychologically because the process is so uncertain, and I don’t know if I will get out soon or if it will take more time.  I miss my work and I miss being able to help my community, as this gave me a lot of satisfaction.”

A federal appeals court recently sent Duran’s case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to take a full look at the evidence of how journalists like Duran are being persecuted in El Salvador, as well as Duran’s other claims for relief.

“Manuel’s case undeniably highlights an immigration system designed to punish and discourage immigrants seeking relief under the law,” said SPLC attorney Gracie Willis.  “He is just one of thousands of immigrants who have contributed extensively to their communities in the United States only to find themselves abruptly imprisoned with little recourse,” continued Willis.

Willis says Duran’s prolonged detention is “unjust, unreasonable, and a waste of resources.”  Duran’s case is a prime example of a deportation system where immigrants with valid claims for relief and who demonstrate strong communities ties are nevertheless held in indefinite detention as a method of dissuading them from pursuing their claims. In fact, ICE could, at any time, release Duran from detention as an exercise of its prosecutorial discretion.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.

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