Durham County

Durham student to be released from federal immigration detention center

Supporters protest deportation of Wildin Acosta

Over 100 Riverside High students, parents, faculty, and others gather on March 18 to protest the scheduled deportation of Wildin Acosta, a Riverside student who was taken into custody by ICE on his way to school.
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Over 100 Riverside High students, parents, faculty, and others gather on March 18 to protest the scheduled deportation of Wildin Acosta, a Riverside student who was taken into custody by ICE on his way to school.

A Riverside High School student facing deportation to Honduras has been cleared to be released from a federal detention center in Georgia if his family can post a $10,000 bond.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Wildin Guillen Acosta on Jan. 28 as he left his Durham home for school. Since then, immigration activists, teachers and fellow students, Durham city officials and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield have called for his release and for a new hearing to consider his request for asylum.

On Monday, Acosta’s parents and the advocacy group Alerta Migratoria established a GoFundMe page to raise the cash needed to secure the teen’s release. Donors had contributed more than the $10,000 needed by early Wednesday afternoon.

“The community, his teachers and family are raising the money,” said Ivan Almonte, a spokesman with Alerta Migratoria and a mentor to Acosta. “When we get the money we can go pick him up.”

Acosta, now 19, told immigration authorities he was fleeing gang violence in his native Honduras when he was stopped at the Texas border in 2014. He attended a court hearing on Dec. 17, 2014, but failed to show up for one in March 2015. On March 30, 2015, a deportation order was issued for him, but Acosta’s case for asylum was never heard on its merits.

Almonte said Acosta phoned his parents Monday to tell them he would be offered bail.

“They are very excited,” Almonte said. “Their faces are so different now. They were so sad, and now there’s hope. There’s happiness in their faces.”

Acosta was a senior at Riverside and set to graduate June 8. He wanted to enroll in college and study engineering this fall.

“I spoke with him this morning,” Almonte said Wednesday. “He’s really excited. He told me, ‘OK, I’m waiting on you guys to pick me up. I just want to go back to school and graduate.’ He just wants to become a better person and go to college.”

Acosta has been held in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., since his arrest. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, visited Acosta at the center in May. Last month, the federal Board of Immigration Appeals agreed to reopen his case, and Butterfield wrote to ICE director Sarah Saldaña urging her to release Acosta.

Almonte said a federal judge will set a date for Acosta’s hearing upon his release. Almonte said the hearing could be a year or two away.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @tmcdona75589225

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