Lawyers for Manuel Duran said Thursday that they have filed a petition seeking his release from the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama. He was transferred there after being held in Louisiana following his arrest one year ago. Duran has been in custody since he was arrested while covering an April 3, 2018, rally protesting immigration policies in Memphis.
Charges related to the protest were subsequently 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 Duran was taken into custody because he had a pending deportation order from 2007 after failing to appear for a court hearing.
Duran has said he did not receive a notice to appear in court with a time and date on it.
Duran sits in federal custody as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reviews his case for asylum. Duran's lawyers claim conditions have worsened for journalists in El Salvador and he could be in danger if he returns.
The appeals court has granted Duran an indefinite stay from deportation and sent his case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals for further review. Previous efforts by his lawyers at the Southern Poverty Law Center to have him released as his case proceeds have been denied.
Duran's attorneys argue that his detention violates current immigration law.
Duran 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. Duran's lawyers have said he came to the United States without permission in 2006 after receiving death threats related to reporting on corruption in El Salvador.