It is somewhat standard at this point for the president to fire off angry tweetstorms about the media. These rants from the man leading our country often attract ridicule, and they give the president’s detractors even more of a reason to find issue with him. After all, the argument goes, the commander-in-chief is continuing to occupy his time with going after the nation’s free press.
The issues with the president’s behavior go beyond just issues of making his office look bad, however. This fact is highlighted by the case of Manuel Duran, an immigrant journalist who, until recently, was working in Memphis, Tennessee, for the Spanish language publication Memphis Noticias.
He was working in his town on April 3, covering a demonstration against the local police department acting as an arm of federal immigration authorities when he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction of a highway or passageway. That issue in of itself is problematic, since Duran could hardly be said to, as a journalist, be responsible for the negative effects of a demonstration he was covering, but the issues with the government’s treatment of Duran do not end there.
After two days, the legal system in part caught up to the facts of the case and the charges against Duran were dropped. However, he was not released from Shelby County Jail; instead, he was turned over to federal immigration authorities. He was consequently transported to the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana, on a bus where he was “shackled by his wrists, ankles and waist” and left without access to the bathroom for eight hours, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC is representing Duran as a part of its Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, otherwise known as SIFI, which, as its name suggests, provides free legal service to immigrants facing deportation across the entire Southeastern United States.
This case comes against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s long established opposition to immigrant rights as a rule; indeed, the administration has recently been reported to be seeking to have immigration judges clear 700 cases a year in order to stay on good terms with authorities.
It is almost as if — surprise, surprise — the administration has little regard for the humanity of individual immigrants after all. Such is hardly surprising when the grand foreign policy ideas that the guy running the country has put forward include putting up a wall in between us and our southern neighbor to keep immigrants out, as if they are little more than cattle.
The SPLC notes in its statement about Duran’s case that it has been successful in similar cases in the past. After Daniela Vargas was detained last year, following an appearance at a press conference supporting immigrant rights, for instance, the organization successfully secured her release.
ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox said that the government’s action against Duran stems from a 2007 deportation order that was issued after he failed to show up for a court date in Atlanta. Duran’s team claims that he never got word to attend court that day and is seeking to have the Atlanta case reopened.
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