Immigration Agents Pick Up Memphis Reporter After Criminal Charges Dropped

Federal immigration authorities have picked up Manuel Duran, the reporter for Spanish-language media arrested this week while doing a live Internet video of a Memphis protest.

“They got him,” Duran’s defense attorney Ann Schiller said Thursday afternoon. She said she wasn’t sure where he is now.

Duran, 42, is from El Salvador and has lived in the Memphis area for several years, working as an on-air personality for Spanish-language radio stations and more recently running his own online news outlet, Memphis Noticias.

Earlier Thursday, a prosecutor announced in court that the state was dropping criminal charges against Duran related to the arrest at the protest.

Two men in plainclothes, possibly Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, had watched from the back of Judge Bill Anderson’s courtroom during the appearance at the criminal justice center at 201 Poplar.

“Unfortunately, ICE was waiting for him in the courtroom,” advocacy group Latino Memphis tweeted Thursday afternoon. “He is currently with ICE.”

ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox said the agency took Duran into custody Thursday following his release from the local jail.

Cox said Duran is living in the country illegally. “Mr. (Duran) was ordered removed from the United States by a federal immigration judge in January 2007 after failing to appear for his scheduled court date. He has been an immigration fugitive since that time,” Cox wrote.

Christina Swatzell, a staff attorney with Latino Memphis, is representing Duran in the immigration case. She said she doesn’t want to comment on Duran’s case until she’s spoken with him.

She said she doesn’t know where he is, but expects he will be transported to a detention center in Mason, Tennessee, and eventually to another center in Jena, Louisiana. She said Duran has her phone number and she’s waiting for him to call her from detention.

By Daniel Connolly for COMMERCIAL APPEAL
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