MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Reporter Manuel Duran sits in a federal detention center exactly one year to the day he was arrested by Memphis police during at a protest downtown.
Family members and supporters held a vigil Wednesday night to mark the occasion.
Duran immigrated to America more than a decade ago, because the reporting he did in El Salvador put his life in jeopardy. He was a reporting on issues in Memphis when he landed on the Feds’ radar.
"He lost a lot of weight...physically he could be doing better,” said Duran’s fiancée Melisa Valdez.
Valdez said they talk every day by phone.
"He tries to keep strong,” Valdez said. “We don't know how bad he is psychologically yet. But he's just trying to hang in there."
Duran was picked up one year ago on Wednesday by Memphis police during an immigration protest.
"He was the only press who was singled out,” said supporter Laura Coleman.
Coleman was with Duran when MPD arrested him for disorderly conduct and blocking the road. The charges were later dropped, and the case was dismissed.
The Shelby County Jail turned Duran over to ICE, and the immigrant from El Salvador has been in federal detention ever since.
"We'll stand by Manuel for as long as it takes,” Coleman said. “It's heartbreaking."
The Southern Poverty Law Center joined the fight to free Duran, filing lawsuits to stop his deportation and get him released.
Duran's now suing the City of Memphis and Shelby County, alleging unlawful arrest.
"We are here both in solidarity with Manuel to send a message to the city, we are not letting this go, we have not forgotten him, and that he's not disposable,” said supporter Reverend Edith Love.
The journalist, who highlighted the problems with America's immigration policies, is now caught in the very system he criticized.
"The truth is...this happens every single day...in silence,” Valdez said. “Nobody knows about it. We know about Manuel because Manuel was a public figure in the city."
Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said last year his officers did not target Duran.
Shelby County Government was also included in this week's new lawsuit.
In January, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office announced it would no longer detain illegal immigrants without a warrant.