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Tennessee Journalist Faces Deportation

Duran live-streamed his arrest and shared it on Facebook. (Free Press/Facebook)
May 7, 2018

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A journalist in Tennessee faces deportation following his arrest April 3 at a protest of current immigration policy.

Manuel Duran, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, originally faced charges of disorderly conduct and disruption of a highway in Memphis. Police dropped those charges two days after his arrest, but turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Duran’s attorney, Michelle Lapointe with the Southern Poverty Law Center, says Duran could be deported any day to a country where his life is at risk.

"The risk for journalists in El Salvador right now is quite high when they do reporting on political issues and criminal issues that are entangled with local politicians and other people in power," Lapointe states.

Lapointe says she believes Duran's arrest is in direct retaliation for his coverage of the city's police and Department of Health and Human Services.

Duran is being held by ICE in Louisiana. Prior to his arrest, he could have applied for U.S. asylum, but according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, his home country has the third highest denial rate in the world.

Lapointe says Duran's detainment and potential deportation as a result of his reporting represents a larger problem.

"Actions like what happened to Manuel, being unlawfully arrested while exercising his First Amendment freedoms as a member of the press, have a chilling effect on others who wish to speak out and who wish to report on issues of concern to the community," she states.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the advocacy group Free Press are circulating a petition to call for Duran’s immediate release.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a record 262 journalists were jailed around the world in 2017.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN