Local Latino journalist could be deported at any time

Latino journalist Manuel Duran could be deported any day. An immigration judge denied his motion to re-open his case late last week.

Duran was arrested in early April, while covering a protest outside of 201 Poplar. The charges were quickly dropped, but the arrest put him back on the radar of Immigration and Customers Enforcement. Duran had a ‘final order for removal’ related to a prior encounter with ICE when he first crossed the border in 2007.

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It has been a tough four weeks for Melisa Valdez.

“I miss him, it is not easy without him,” she said.

It is even more difficult for her longtime partner, Manuel Duran.

“I spoke to him about two hours ago on the phone,” she said. “I try to keep his mind away from what he is living.”

It’s hard though, for their minds to be on anything but deportation. Last week the motion to re-open Manuel’s case was denied.

“The motion to reopen had a temporary stay, so when it was denied, the stay was no longer [in place],” explained Valdez.

Duran’s lawyers with the Southern Poverty Law Center appealed the ruling Tuesday morning. The attorneys told FOX13 they believe Manuel has a strong case that they hope a court will consider.

“Now we are just waiting, the appeal can take months. So we don't know,” said Valdez.

Meanwhile, Valdez continues to make the six hour drive to Louisiana every couple of days. And she continues to pray that one day it will be Manuel driving back with her.

“It would be great. We have never been away from each other for this long, ever,” she said.

Duran’s lawyers have also filed a petition in Louisiana seeking his immediate removal from detention, so he can fight the charges from home. So far no ruling has been made regarding that petition.

Before Duran is deported, his lawyers told FOX13 they will be given at least a 24-hour heads up. They are hoping if the situation comes to that, they will be able to file a last-minute appeal.