By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A detained Spanish-language reporter facing deportation after he was arrested while covering an immigration rally in Tennessee was denied release Thursday, his lawyers said.
An immigration judge denied bond for Manuel Durán during a hearing in Jena, Louisiana, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement.
Durán is being held in Louisiana as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reviews his case for asylum. Durán’s lawyers claim conditions have worsened for reporters in El Salvador and he could be in danger if he returns. The appeals court has granted Durán an indefinite stay from deportation.
Durán has been in custody since he was arrested at an April rally protesting immigration policies the day before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in downtown Memphis.
Charges related to the protest were dropped, but he was picked up by immigration agents after he was released from jail and detained. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said Durán was taken into custody because he had a pending deportation order from 2007 after failing to appear for a court hearing.
Durán has said he did not receive a notice to appear with a time and date on it.
Durán is from El Salvador and he has lived in Memphis for years. He ran the Memphis Noticias online news outlet and reported on the effects of U.S. immigration policies on the Hispanic community. Durán’s lawyers have said he came to the U.S. without permission in 2006 after receiving death threats related to reporting on corruption in El Salvador.
The SPLC, which has been representing Durán in his immigration case, has argued that Durán is not a flight risk. Gracie Willis, a staff attorney for the center, said Durán’s lawyers were heartbroken that he was denied release to his family in Memphis.
“The prolonged detention of a journalist who has been granted a stay of removal by a higher court is unjust, unreasonable, and a waste of resources,” Willis said in a statement.
Lawyers could appeal the ruling to deny bond, but a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals could take months, Willis said in a phone interview later Thursday. ICE also could release Durán under an order of supervision that would require him to check in regularly with the agency as he fights his case. However, ICE has denied similar requests for that type of release for Durán, Willis said.
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