MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Manuel Duran was arrested last year while reporting on a protest against immigration policies and shared his story for the first time since he was released from ICE custody.
Wednesday he described conditions in ICE custody as “inhumane” at a press conference held by Latino Memphis and Southern Poverty Law Center. An interpreter translated his message in English.
“With my work as a journalist, my only purpose is to serve the community and to be truthful,” said Duran.
The El Salvador native was arrested last April while working as a reporter covering a protest against immigration policies in Memphis.
“I have seen the cruelty of mass incarceration first-hand and it is unnecessary and inhumane,” said Duran.
Duran described conditions as unlivable at immigration detention centers in Alabama and Louisiana.
“The food portions are not enough to satisfy the need during the day. The places are infected with pests, cockroaches, and spiders.”
According to ICE, in 2006 he was picked up while entering the country illegally. He was later let go. A deportation order was issued when he failed to show up at a court hearing in 2007. At Wednesday’s news conference, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Latino Memphis shared the impact of Duran’s case.
“Memphis is a better city today, it’s a more welcoming place because of what happened to Manuel,” said Mauricio Calvo, the executive director of Latino Memphis. “It elevated the situation of his unlawful detention.”
Now the journalist is adapting to life back home.
“This experience has been very difficult for me and my family, both psychologically and economically. I feel that my life has turned 180 degrees and I am still trying to adapt,” shared Duran.
The journalist says he never received a notice regarding that 2007 court hearing. His attorney said a hearing in immigration court will take place in Atlanta. They hope to have it moved to Memphis.