Durham teen says Honduran gangs will kill him if he's deported
Posted February 8, 2016
Durham, N.C. — A Durham teen who was taken into custody by immigration agents two weeks ago said Monday that he fears he will be killed if he is deported.
David Guillen Acosta, 19, was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while on his way to Riverside High School on Jan. 28. He has since moved through detention centers in Raleigh and South Carolina and is now being held in southern Georgia.
A native of Honduras, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 2014 to escape gang violence. He appeared before an immigration judge in Charlotte when he arrived in the U.S. two years ago, but he never returned to immigration court for fear of deportation. That decision, ironically, prompted a deportation notice to be issued for him last March.
"My whole family is living here in the United States," Guillen Acosta told WRAL News in a phone interview, adding that gangs have killed many of his relatives in Honduras.
When asked what will happen if he is deported, he says simply, "They kill me."
Now, he is asking authorities to give him the permission he needs to stay and asking God for the strength he needs to get through his detention. He said he has an irregular heart beat and has passed out.
At least six young people from North Carolina are in the same situation, having been picked up by ICE agents in an enforcement effort targeting the thousands of unaccompanied minors and mothers with small children who illegally entered the U.S. since 2014. Guillen Acosta said a teen from Raleigh also is being held in the Georgia jail.
The Durham Human Relations Commission last week adopted a resolution calling for the "suspension of ICE raids in our local community" and the "favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion" to grant the youths' release from custody.
The Durham City Council is backing the resolution, and Democratic 4th District Congressman David Price and his staff have asked for more information from ICE about Guillen Acosta's case to ensure he is treated fairly.
"The Congressman is concerned by the circumstances under which Mr. Guillen Acosta was apprehended, which serve as a stark reminder of the need to address the shortcomings of our broken immigration system," Price spokesman Lawrence Kluttz said in an email to WRAL News. "Congressman Price will continue to advocate for comprehensive congressional reform that prioritizes the removal of dangerous criminals and protects those members of our communities who are pursuing the American dream."