Local News

ICE agents arrest Riverside High student for possible deportation

Posted January 29, 2016 6:14 p.m. EST
Updated January 29, 2016 8:03 p.m. EST

— Riverside High School senior David Guillen Acosta headed out the door Thursday morning for school but wound up in the Wake County jail and could soon be on his way back to his native Honduras.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting outside Guillen Acosta's Durham home and took him into custody. The 19-year-old was among the thousands of children and teens who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally during the summer of 2014.

Guillen Acosta appeared before an immigration judge in Charlotte when he arrived, but he never returned to immigration court for fear of deportation. That prompted a deportation notice to be issued for him last March.

ICE has since changed its enforcement priorities, making Guillen Acosta a target of the new push to round up women and children who crossed the border illegally after May 2014. Raids in recent weeks have rounded up scores of people in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.

Nearly half of the 20,800 cases involving unaccompanied children that have gone through immigration courts since the summer of 2014 have resulted in removal orders, meaning almost 9,700 children and teens across the country are now being targeted by ICE.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said that Guillen Acosta was taken into custody pursuant to a final order of removal issued by an immigration judge. Cox said he could not discuss "future operations" in the case.

Guillen Acosta's attorney plans to reopen his immigration case, according to Que Pasa, a Spanish-language newspaper in Raleigh.

His parents, who have been in the U.S. for four years, said he came to North Carolina to escape deadly gang violence in Honduras, and they fear he will be killed if he is sent back. His mother, Dilsia Acosta, said he is a good person who goes to school during the day, works at a restaurant at night and has dreams of one day becoming an engineer.

Hector Guillen said he watched from inside his home as his son was arrested because he feared that his other children might be taken into custody as well if he went outside.

The family is now keeping the other children at home, and Durham Public Schools officials said they are aware of other concerned Latino families also not sending their children to class for fear they will be deported.

School district policy prohibits schools from asking students about their immigration status, which means they are not turning students over to ICE because they are not keeping track of who is in the country legally and who isn't.