ICE Trying To Deport Journalist For Reporting On Abusive ICE Behavior
from the thugs-in-uniforms dept
For many years (looong before this current administration), we’ve documented the problems with ICE, a government agency that has long been totally out of control, abusing its power and authority not just in dealing with immigration, but in literally seizing blogs, because Hollywood told them to do so. The organization has done nothing to improve its reputation over the years, and lately almost seems to relish in the free reign it has to act like complete thugs in uniform.
The latest story — as with seizing blogs — appears to have some serious First Amendment concerns, though there’s no indication that ICE cares at all about that. In this story, ICE detained a journalist and is trying to have him deported because of that reporter’s coverage of ICE activities. Freedom of the Press has the details, but the short version is that Manuel Duran, who fled El Salvador a decade ago over death threats there, has been living in the US and reporting for a few different Spanish language news organizations.
In April, he was reporting on immigration protests in Memphis when he was arrested. That, by itself, is problematic enough. All too often we’ve seen reporters being arrested for covering protests, despite multiple courts stating quite clearly that such arrests violate the First Amendment. Indeed, Duran’s own case was dropped and the judge dismissed the case. However, ICE not only refused to let Duran out of jail, it transferred him to another ICE detention center, and are trying to deport him back to El Salvador.
Duran has been living in the United States for over a decade, since he fled from El Salvador after his life was threatened. His life is here, and this is his community. He has worked for Memphis publication Las Noticias for years, where he has done important reporting exposing ties between local police and ICE and covered immigration detention.
Duran?s attorneys say it is precisely this critical reporting that led law enforcement to target him. “The actions pursued by government officials in this case threaten core First Amendment freedoms that are essential to our democracy: the right to criticize and expose the actions of government officials, and the right of members of the press to write and publish about them,” a legal filing by Duran?s attorneys states.
Duran wrote a statement from behind bars, which was read by his girlfriend at a press event in Memphis on April 16. ?This episode in my life has not been easy, but I have taken it as an opportunity to learn first hand the drama and reality that our families are living when they are arrested by immigration and then deported,? it reads. ?This is a cruel system that criminalizes people who pose no danger to this country.?
Once again, it appears that continuing to detain him is a clear attack on the First Amendment. Some will almost certainly argue that if he’s undocumented, there’s no excuse and he should be deported. But the fact that he was clearly targeted for his 1st Amendment protected activities should be a massive concern to everyone — even those who agree with plans to deport undocumented people in America.