Durham County

Teachers of Durham student facing deportation send him homework

The teachers of a Riverside High School student who is facing deportation back to Central America will meet in downtown Durham on Friday afternoon to mail off his homework assignments.

Wildin David Guillen Acosta was arrested outside of his parent’s home as he left for school late last month by two plainclothes officers with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

Acosta, an 18-year-old senior, was arrested after an immigration judge in Charlotte ordered his removal from the country last year. Federal officers had stopped Acosta at the Texas border in 2014 after he had fled his native Honduras, and he was ordered deported after failing to show up for an immigration hearing, according to his mother, Dilsia Acosta.

Acosta’s teachers, family members and supporters planned to meet Friday afternoon downtown to mail his classwork and homework to the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., where he is being held.

Acosta “could be put on a plane to Honduras at any moment,” according to a brief press statement released Friday by the Latino advocacy group Alerta Migratoria and the Durham Association of Educators. His family says he fled gang violence in the country and fears for his life if he is returned.

Acosta is set to graduate from high school in June and hoped to enroll at Durham Tech and become an engineer, said his mentor, Ivan Almonte, who was hired by Duke University to work as a counselor for Latino students in Durham Public Schools.

Viridiana Martinez, a spokesperson with Alerta Migratoria, said the teachers decided to mail Acosta his homework and classwork, “at his request.”

“He really wants to graduate in June,” Martinez said. “He told his parents he has been locked up for almost a month, and he asked them to ask his teachers to send him his homework so he could work on it.”

Almonte said Acosta played for a soccer team with an after-school program at Duke University. At Riverside, he was a member of Destino Success, a club for Latino students.

Soon after Acosta’s arrest, his teachers and coaches sent letters to federal immigration officials asking that he not be deported. Since then, the city’s Human Relations Commission and the county board of education passed resolutions opposing the deportation of students.

Bryan Cox, a spokesman with ICE in Atlanta, confirmed that Acosta is being held at a detention center in Georgia and that he has “a final order of removal by an immigration judge.”

Cox said he had seen the press release from the student’s supporters, along with their claims that he is “facing persecution.”

“I can’t speak to that,” Cox said about the press statement and the order to deport Acosta. “An immigration judge makes that determination. That’s not determined by ICE.”

Cox added that he could not tell “when or if an individual will be removed.”

Martinez, with Alerta Migratoria, said teachers are sending Acosta his homework because they think there’s chance he may be coming back to his parent’s home in Durham.

“Definitely, everyone is rallying around Wildin in Durham,” she said. “The idea and the hope and the goal is he will be released.”

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @tmcdona75589225