Memphis, TN — Today, Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz, Detention Watch Network, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition called on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to immediately release Manuel Duran, a well-known Spanish language journalist in Memphis. Manuel was arrested on April 3rd by the Memphis Police Department while he was conducting his work as a reporter and covering an immigrant detention protest held by local groups outside of the county jail. CUUV, DWN, TIRRC and thousands of people launched a campaign to urge MPD to drop all charges and for Sheriff Oldham to release Manuel immediately and not honor a voluntary detainer request from ICE.
Thanks to the swift advocacy of thousands of people, all charges against Manuel were dropped today. However, Sheriff Bill Oldham chose to honor the voluntary request made by immigration authorities and released him into ICE custody, despite the fact that Manuel paid his bond and all charges were dropped. He is now under ICE custody and facing deportation.
Over 1000 people took action, by sending emails and making phone calls to Sheriff Bill Oldham, immediately following the journalist’s arrest. This morning, a local delegation of community leaders delivered a letter to the sheriff’s office with more than 130 organizations and local businesses urging for Manuel’s release.
The following is a quote from Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Policy Director at TIRRC:
“It is unacceptable and un-American for a journalist to be arrested for doing his job. While we’re grateful that the all charges were dropped, we’re deeply outraged and disappointed by the role of local law enforcement in facilitating the possible deportation of a local journalist. Sheriff Bill Oldham did not have to honor the voluntary request made by immigration agents, and could have chosen to release Manuel when all charges were dropped and he had paid his bond. Now, Manuel faces the threat of deportation and separation from his family, simply for doing his job. We won’t stop fighting for Manuel.”
The following is a quote from Ivan Flores at CUUV:
"We believe this is also retaliation against a journalist who has brought to light issues between local enforcement agencies and the immigrant community in Memphis. The decision of the Shelby County Sheriff to collaborate with Trump's ICE agency is a clear example of how the detention and deportation machinery functions in the Mid-South."
The following is a quote from Gabriela Marquez-Benitez at DWN:
“Our community is watching and we demand that ICE release Manuel immediately. Although Shelby County Mayor, Mark Lutrell and Sheriff Bill Oldham have publically denied any collaboration with ICE, Manuel’s transfer to ICE custody today proves the opposite. This clearly shows that Shelby County local officials are complicit with and are working hand-in-hand with ICE, a government agency that has a track-record of egregious human rights abuses.”
Unfortunately, Manuel’s arrest is not unique. It is part of a growing national pattern of ICE targeting people perceived to be political opponents. Every American of good conscience should be deeply alarmed at this attack on fundamental rights.
Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (CUUV) is a Memphis grassroots-led immigrant rights group. Our mission is to educate, organize and take action to foster social justice in our immigrant communities.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state.