Local News

Durham teen has City Council support in fighting deportation

Posted December 5, 2017 9:39 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— The Durham teenager who spent months in federal custody under threat of deportation faces another hearing in his case Tuesday.

Wildin David Guillen Acosta was a senior at Riverside High in Durham and on his way to school when federal immigration agents detained him in January 2016. His deportation was temporarily halted three months later, and he went on to graduate from high school.

This time, Guillen Acosta has the support of the Durham City Council behind him. In a letter to Immigration Judge V. Stuart Couch, the council wrote, "[Wildin] is, in essence, a refugee fleeing for his life under threat of violence and death."

Guillen Acosta's supporters released the letter ahead of his Tuesday afternoon hearing at the Charlotte Immigration Court, and they planned a rally to show their support for him.

They said the City of Durham Human Relations Commission and the Board of County Commissioners have also written letters to Couch in support of asylum for Guillen Acosta.

Guillen Acosta has said he fled Honduras in 2014 because a gang member threatened to kill him. Speaking through a translator about the incident that brought him to the U.S., Acosta said that he had visited a park with his youth group when the threat was made. He said the gang member told him not to leave his house at night because he was being watched, and the gang member later sent him threatening text messages.

Guillen Acosta said he told his aunt about the incident, and his parents, who had migrated to the United States several years earlier, decided to bring him to the country.

“I always say that every experience is another adventure that is put in your path of life,” Guillen Acosta said.

He said he traveled through Guatemala and Mexico before being detained at two Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities at the United States border. He eventually met up with his family and began attending school in Durham.

Guillen Acosta appeared before an immigration judge in Charlotte when he arrived in the U.S., but he never returned to immigration court for fear of deportation.

That failure to appear, however, resulted in the deportation order that led to his arrest.

After about six weeks in an immigration detention center, Guillen Acosta was ordered to be deported, sparking a surge of media attention and political support that resulted in a hold on his deportation.