Petitioner Manuel Leonidas Duran-Ortega’s emergency motion for a stay of removal is GRANTED. The American Society of News Editors and other amicus organizations’ emergency motion for leave to file an amicus brief is also GRANTED.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

The following is a summary of the order. To read the full order, click here.

First, Mr. Duran-Ortega has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his argument that the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) erred in denying his motion to reopen immigration proceedings.

Although the agency (Board of Immigration Appeals) is entitled to “rely heavily on State Department reports about a country it may not cherry pick information from the reports and ignore contradictory information presented by the petitioner. Here, however, it appears the BIA may have done just that.

The record indicates the BIA may have improperly truncated its analysis of Mr. Duran-Ortega’s motion to reopen by failing to fully consider all the evidence.

I believe Mr. Duran-Ortega has made a sufficiently strong showing the BIA may have erred when it denied his motion to reopen.

Here, I am mindful of the likelihood Mr. Duran-Ortega would be physically harmed if he is removed to El Salvador while his appeal remains pending. Prior to fleeing to the United States, Mr. Duran-Ortega worked as a television station manager and reported on corruption in El Salvador’s criminal justice and legal system.

During his time in the United States, Mr. Duran-Ortega has only increased his visibility in the journalism community for his coverage of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and law enforcement activity. Given his intent to continue working as an investigative, anti-corruption journalist, there is a significant likelihood Mr. Duran-Ortega will be harmed if the government removes him to El Salvador. I agree with Mr. Duran- Ortega that this is sufficient to show irreparable injury.

There are no circumstances here that would heighten the ordinary public interest in removing Mr. Duran-Ortega. The record does not indicate that Mr. Duran-Ortega was convicted of a crime and there is no evidence that he abused the processes provided to him. To the contrary, it appears Mr. Duran-Ortega served as a community leader and dedicated himself to covering important local events.

The balance of the equities thus tips in Mr. Duran-Ortega’s favor, given the strong public interest in “preventing aliens from being wrongfully removed, particularly to countries where they are likely to face substantial harm.

Because Mr. Duran-Ortega has adequately satisfied the Nken factors, I agree with my colleagues that a stay is warranted while this Court decides the merits of his appeal.

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