An immigrant rights group plans to hold a vigil Tuesday evening, demanding the release of a local journalist who is facing deportation. People have been fighting for Manuel Duran’s release since his arrest during block party protests last week. While his charges were dropped in that case, Duran is now in custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Local 24’s political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shared his point of view on the matter.
As Memphis and the nation were preparing last week to observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’S assassination 50 years ago, another modern day social issue was playing out in our city.
Just one day before the April 4th anniversary, local Spanish language journalist Manuel Duran was arrested by Memphis police while covering an immigration protest downtown. Now, Duran is in a Louisiana detention center facing deportation to his native country of El Salvador.
Duran’s plight highlights just how broken and politically divisive our immigration policies have become. Even local officials on the periphery of the issue can and do face heated criticism from those opposed to the federal government’s heavy-handed deportation tactics.
Duran’s questionable arrest occurred while he was livestreaming the protest near 201 Poplar. Police allege that he refused to get out of the street. Later in court, the charges were dismissed. But a couple of immigration agents were there, and immediately took him into custody on a deportation order from 2007.
The fact is, police should not have arrested Duran in the first place. He was merely doing his job covering a legitimate news event. How federal agents got wind of his arrest is unclear. But one thing is perfectly clear. Our immigration system is in shambles, and the current administration is making things worse.
Until Congress decides to fix it, we will continue having protests in the streets, and broken families in Memphis and elsewhere.
The vigil for Duran will be Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at 3766 Ridgeway Road in Hickory Hill.