The Durham school board joined the Durham City Council Thursday night in asking federal immigration authorities to let a high school student from Honduras stay in Durham.
Wildin David Guillen Acosta, a Riverside High senior, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 28 on his way to school.
An immigration judge in Charlotte had ordered Acosta be removed from the country last year after federal officers stopped him at the Texas border in 2014 and he failed to show up for an immigration hearing, according to his mother
Acosta’s younger sister, who asked that her name not be used, explained through an interpreter Thursday night that her brother had left Honduras in 2014 after being threatened by a gang.
If he is deported, he will die, she said through tears.
Acosta is one of six young people who fled gang violence in their home countries and now face deportation, according to supporters. The others are Edwin Yonatan Alvarez Galvan of Cary, Pedro Arturo Salmeron-Salmeron and Walter Joel Aguilar-Ramirez of Charlotte, Josue Alexander Soriano-Cortez of Thomasville, and Bilmer Araeli Pujoy Juarez of Greenville. All are in immigration detention centers in Georgia facing possible deportation to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the supports said.
“Let us be clear, Pedro, Walter, Wildin, Edwin, Bilmer, and Josue have no previous criminal record. None,” according to an online petition Free NC Refugee Kids. “If Pedro, Walter, Wildin, Edwin, Bilmer, and Josue are deported, this would go against our humanitarian principles and place their lives in grave danger.”
On Thursday night the Durham Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution unanimously opposing the deportation of Durham Public Schools students and asking that Acosta be returned to his family.
Ellen Holmes, a Riverside Spanish teacher and adviser to the school’s Destino Success group, told the board that attendance has dropped since Acosta was arrested.
“The Monday after it happened, I was missing eight students in my homeroom out of 23,” she said. “Drop outs have increased because they are scared. They do not want to come to school and no longer feel that it is safe.”
“I spent my lunch period today trying to calm a very high-achieving student who has a bright future but is so scared that she’s going to come home and her parents aren’t going to be there,” Holmes said.
Holmes knew Acosta and said he was a good student who wanted to go to college and become an engineer.
Acosta’s sister said her brother asked her to send his homework to the detention center so he can study and graduate in June.
What the resolution says
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
That these young people be granted favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion, and
That law enforcement honor the policy not to involve schools and other sensitive locations, and
That principals and school staff are encouraged to work with and support families and students who express concern about immigration enforcement actions at school, including students who may not be attending school because of such concerns,
That ICE actions in our local community be suspended, and currently detained Durham youth be released to their families,
Read the full resolution at bit.ly/1WhKV8j