News media report that Manuel Duran, deportable alien and journalist extraordinaire, may be removed from the United States within the next few days — depending on whether or not he receives a stay of removal from the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Duran was arrested for participating in protests outside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Memphis, Tenn., by local police. At the time he was arrested, he had already been ordered removed by an immigration judge, and had his appeal dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Needless to say, when ICE agents found out, they filed a detainer and ultimately took custody of him. Now they are, as the law requires, following up on the outstanding, unexecuted final order of removal.
Duran has filed a request for review by the 11th Circuit, claiming he was "targeted". Duran's isn't the only such case of late, and all of these erstwhile "journalists" are, of course, claiming that they were targeted for their journalistic endeavors and their exercise of free speech. I've spoken about this phenomenon before, but at the risk of boring readers, let me repeat myself.
In the first place, it's doubtful that ICE was targeting anyone. After all, he was taken into custody by Memphis police — not ICE — because he refused to obey their lawful commands as to where the protesters were allowed exercise their free speech rights.
In the second place, was this man in fact acting as a "journalist" or as a demonstrator? It seems to me that the two things are fundamentally incompatible, and the circumstances surrounding his arrest suggest he was a protester.
Third, and of course of primary importance, is that while everyone within the physical boundaries of the United States possesses free speech rights, they don't trump equally important statutes and constitutional premises — including the immigration and nationality laws, which are uniquely and specifically defined as a preeminent federal power, at Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution.
Fourth and finally, stop and consider that if all it takes to preclude enforcement of those laws is to self-identify as a journalist, every illegal alien in the country will soon be putting himself forward in that guise. Why wouldn't they?
But, of course, there's nothing like a good storyline to try to make ICE agents look like jack-booted thugs. It's a guaranteed money-raiser. And so it is that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has collected hundreds of millions of dollars vilifying and casting as "haters" everyone from government agents to outspoken advocates of fair-but-firm enforcement, has stepped in to underwrite Duran's appeal — even as it engages in character assassination and villification of the worst sort (see here and here).
Keep your fingers crossed. With good sense (or, failing that, at least luck) the 11th Circuit will decline to issue a stay, and Duran will be promptly removed so that he can continue his journalist endeavors elsewhere. It will be interesting to find out whether, once removed, he exhibits the same keen interest in reporting, or whether he suddenly finds a new interest in some other line of work.