Memphis reporter wins temporary stay of deportation

Manuel Duran

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An appeals court has granted a two-week reprieve for a Spanish-language reporter facing deportation after he was arrested while covering an immigration rally in Tennessee.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday barred the U.S. government from removing Manuel Duran to El Salvador before Nov. 30. Judges are considering a motion to keep Duran in the country as they mull whether to reopen his case.

When Duran was arrested in Memphis in April, he still had a pending deportation order from 2007. He entered the country illegally in 2006 and was told to appear in court the following year. When he didn’t, that deportation order was issued. His lawyers have said that he did not receive notice to report to court before the deportation order was issued.

Charges related to the protest were dropped but he was handed over to immigration officials and detained.

Duran’ lawyers say they plan to ask for asylum if his case is reopened, arguing that conditions are worsening for reporters in El Salvador.

Duran spoke publicly about his case for the first time this week.

“It’s dangerous for me to return to my country,” he said in Spanish during the conference call.

Duran had been critical of law enforcement in his reporting. Activists say he faced retaliation for it. Memphis police have repeatedly denied those allegations, saying officers arrested Duran after an order to clear the street was given.

Duran said he was just doing his job as a journalist when he was arrested.

“I was doing the right thing,” he said.

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