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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Emergency deportation suspended for Salvadoran journalist detained by ICE two months ago in the U.S.



The Board of Immigration Appeals accepted the emergency suspension of the imminent deportation of Salvadoran journalist Manuel Durán, who since April 5 has been held in Louisiana detention centers belonging to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), reported Memphis Noticias.

Manuel Durán Ortega (Screenshot)

Durán is a 42-year-old Salvadoran journalist who arrived in the United States without documents in 2006, after being threatened with death in his country for publishing investigative reports on corruption in the armed forces and in the judicial system, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). For some time, Durán has owned the Spanish-language news portal Memphis Noticias, for which he also writes.

On April 3 of this year, he was arrested by police while covering a demonstration in Memphis against U.S. immigration policies. After being released and acquitted of charges, he was arrested by ICE on April 5 due to his immigration status, according to Memphis Noticias.

According to the Commercial Appeal, federal authorities planned to deport Durán to El Salvador on Wednesday, May 30. According to Memphis Noticias, the journalist was transferred on May 25 to the Alexandria Staging Facility, a temporary detention center that collaborates with ICE, located at the airport in Alexandria, Louisiana, from where the deportation flights depart.

One of Duran's defense attorneys, Jeremy Jong, said Durán was happy with the decision of the Board of Appeals, Commercial Appeal reported. “"It's the first good news that we've gotten in his case,” Jong told the U.S.-based website, adding that Durán is already back in LaSalle, an ICE detention center in Louisiana where he was initially taken and where he will wait a few more months for the answer on the appeal of his case.

"Manuel is a journalist who was simply doing his job, reporting the actions of the police and ICE when he was illegally arrested," said Michelle Lapointe, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to Memphis Noticias. "We are asking for the immediate release of Manuel Durán," Lapointe continued, adding that Durán's arrest has created fear and distrust between immigrant communities and authorities.

According to one of Durán's lawyers, the Board of Appeals will now be able to consider the request of the journalist's defense to reopen the old immigration case that Durán had pending with authorities since 2007, the Commercial Appeal published.  "What we're asking them to do is find that the immigration judge made an error and that they should reopen the case," Jong said. "And so once his case is reopened, he'll be eligible to apply for a bond, and he'll be able to fight his asylum case in the United States.



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