Politics & Government

Durham school board opposes deportation of students

The Durham school board joined the City Council this week in asking federal immigration authorities to let a high school student from Honduras stay in Durham.

Wildin David Guillen Acosta, a senior at Riverside High, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 28 as he was leaving home for school. A judge had ordered Acosta deported last year after he failed to show up for an immigration hearing.

His family and other supporters say Acosta fled gang violence in Honduras in 2014 and fears for his life if he goes back. After a plea from his mother, the city’s Human Relations Commission passed a resolution earlier this month urging the federal government not to deport Acosta, and the City Council unanimously endorsed it.

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,” Holmes said. “Dropouts have increased because they are scared. They do not want to come to school and no longer feel that it is safe.”

Morrisville districts debated

The Morrisville Town Council has spent its past two meetings debating whether it should alter its election districts – and the discussion is expected to continue – even though the change would affect few people.

In the town’s unusual format, the seven-person council is made up of four district seats plus two at-large seats and the mayor, who is also elected at-large. But the districts apply only to residents who want to run for office. Voters can cast ballots in all races, regardless of which district they live in.

The districts are widely imbalanced in size, and the largest district has 63 percent more people than the smallest. Council members have discussed options that include maintaining the current districts, eliminating them or altering their composition.

The issue has sharply divided the council, however, leading to several angry exchanges at last Tuesday’s meeting. The arguments largely boil down to issues of gerrymandering. The council previously passed a resolution opposing gerrymandering.

Mayor Mark Stohlman said a suggestion to redraw the district lines, which come with an instruction to keep current officials in their districts, is a form of local gerrymandering. He called those who support the option hypocrites, an insinuation that made those council members bristle.

Political events

▪ Jessica Kozma Proctor, field director for the Connect NC Committee, will speak about the $2 billion state public improvement bond referendum that will be on the March 15 ballot at the next meeting of the Wake Senior Democrats on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott in Raleigh. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. with lunch followed by the program at 11:30 a.m.

▪ Hal Weatherman, the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, will speak to the Western Wake Republican Club on Monday, Feb. 22, at Rally Point Sports Grill, 1837 N. Harrison Ave. in Cary. Dinner starts at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m.

Compiled by Natalie Ritchie and Will Doran

Got a tip, item or coming event? Send an email to Triangle Politics at metroeds@newsobserver.com by noon Thursday.

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