Durham teen to be released on bond from immigration detention
Posted August 10, 2016 12:52 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2016 3:05 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — A Durham teen who has been in U.S. immigration custody for more than six months could soon be home after supporters raised money to post his bond.
Wildin David Guillen Acosta, 19, was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while on his way to Riverside High School on Jan. 28 as part of an effort to target teenagers who recently crossed into the United States from Mexico. A native of Honduras, Guillen Acosta said 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., but he never returned to immigration court for fear of deportation. That failure to appear, however, resulted in a deportation order.
He has been in ICE custody in a detention facility in southern Georgia since early February, but a judge this week set a $10,000 bond for his release.
Supporters set up a GoFundMe page and raised the bond money in less than two days. They said it will take a few days to obtain the money, post the bond in Charlotte and travel to Georgia to pick up the teen.
"I'm still in disbelief that at the end of this all moved so quickly," Riverside High teacher Mika Twietmeyer said Wednesday. "This is not the end for Wildin. He still needs to face one hearing for his federal immigration appeal, and that could take several months."
That hearing will be to continue pursuing an asylum claim with immigration officials, attorney Evelyn Smallwood said.
Smallwood has argued that Guillen Acosta qualifies for asylum because he was escaping gang violence and didn't have adequate legal representation when he first appeared before the immigration judge.
"I know its just going to be very emotional," Spanish teacher Ellen Holmes said of Guillen Acosta's release. "I can’t imagine what his family will feel, what he will feel to finally be out of a place like that. I know his mother will be over the moon."
Dilsa Acosta said she is ecstatic that her son will soon be back in Durham.
"We are expecting him to re-enroll in school, and he only has one semester to finish," Twietmeyer said. "I'm sure Wildin is going to have a big transition back to just normal life."
Because Guillen Acosta crossed the U.S.-Mexico border within the last two years, ICE considered him a detention priority – similar to convicted felons and terrorists. Twietmeyer
"When the federal government is saying they are rounding up the most dangerous immigrants or illegal aliens who are here in the United States, they are not targeting people with criminal records. They are actually targeting the youth, and that is not what people think is happening," she said. "He’s a young person who came here on a hope and a dream, and we as Americans say we provide a hope and a dream."