Acosta’s Durham community managed to keep his case alive in the hearts and minds of his Durham school community, city community, and in the news. Their work gives him a chance to plead his asylum case, keeps the ICE raids and deportations in the news, and keeps attention on the terrible way that the United States is treating children, families and individuals.
Wildin David Guillen Acosta’s school community worked very hard to keep attention on his situation. One of the teachers who helped him sent NC NOW a list of articles that the Riverside High School students and teachers wrote.
The effort began in Durham. “As Acosta’s deportation looms, Riverside students ask for Durham’s help,” 3/18/16, by Riverside High School Student Morgan Whithaus, at http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article66949102.html. Whithaus includes the danger that Acosta is facing as well as other damage the immigrant raids and detainments are causing for the school.
Whithaus wrote, “Wildin fled his native country of Honduras because local gang members threatened to take his life. If he is deported Sunday, he will be faced with those same gang members. Wildin is destined for the same fate as another North Carolina student with a similar situation who was killed by the same gang members he fled after he was deported back.”
“These raids [in Durham and across NC] have caused many immigrant students to stop attending school for fear of being detained in the same way Wildin was.”
“If Wildin is deported, school attendance will continue to drop, damaging the graduation rate and test scores that the Durham community has worked so hard to improve. Federal law states that immigration enforcement officers cannot come to schools, but at the same time, students are terrified to leave their homes, causing them to miss out on valuable education time.”
More about Acosta in “When Learning Gets Personal, 5/20/16, by Bryan Christopher, a policy analyst for National Council of Teachers of English, at http://blogs.ncte.org/index.php/2016/05/learning-gets-personal/
“Wildin is one of hundreds of undocumented students attending Durham’s public schools. He was targeted, arrested, and detained during a series of raids focused on recent arrivals instead of individuals with criminal records or gang ties. Wildin met the criteria: he is a legal adult, arrived in the United States after January 1, 2014, and skipped an immigration court hearing in 2015, resulting in a deportation order.”
Christopher continues, “Word around school traveled fast. Students get arrested all the time, but not kids like Wildin. Yes, he was undocumented, but he stayed out of trouble, played soccer, joined clubs, and was on pace to graduate in June.”
“Free Wildin”: Teen Picked Up by ICE on His Way to High School Faces Deportation to Honduras, 5/24/16, featuring Axel Herrera, who was also a senior with Wildin at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina and Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Find interview at http://www.democracynow.org/2016/5/24/free_wildin_teen_picked_up_by
What Shah said chills my heart. “Operation Border Guardian began on January 23rd, [2016,]and it was—it was a targeted operation, supposedly—that’s what DHS says—that was levied against people who came from those countries as minors and then turned 18 years old or 19 years old in the United States. That was the focus of Operation Border Guardian. It didn’t take into account whether people had tried to apply for asylum. It doesn’t take into account where people had good, competent counsel. It doesn’t take into account what people were actually fleeing. It really is just simply a deportation program that is focused on these—on these kids.”
Later Shah mentions that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are “among the most violent corners of our hemisphere.” These three countries are also 3 of the top 4 in femicide (killing women) IN THE WORLD right now. Acosta is from Honduras and Ingrid Portillo, deported 9/23/16, is from El Salvador, where her father had already been murdered. More on Portillo at “One Saved, One Lost Of The NC 6” at https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/one-saved-one-lost-of-the-nc-6/
“NC students, educator go to DC, speak out for arrested classmates,” 5/26/15, http://educationvotes.nea.org/2016/05/26/nc-students-educator-go-to-dc-speak-out-for-arrested-classmates/
“Since February, four Riverside students have been part of the movement to help their fellow classmate, Wildin. They have organized school-wide movements in support of Wildin, and have been apart of several rallies in Durham. Their efforts include starting a social media campaign using the hashtag #RHSwantsWildinback, that raised awareness about the arrests in Durham. They have gained support of students, teachers, and community members.” Find a photo journal of the students and teachers’ journey to DC at https://pamzalez.exposure.co/rhs-students-to-dc, 6/6/16.
“Homeland Security Secretary Johnson: Stop Detaining Our Promising Youth,” 6/17/16, another article by Morgan Whithaus. At http://www.huffingtonpost.com/center-for-community-change-action/homeland-security-secreta_b_10530068.html, 6/17/16.
Whithaus wrote, “It is horrendous that Wildin was placed in solitary confinement for three “minor violations” on June 7, the day before he was supposed to graduate. It is horrendous that he was in solitary for more than a week and was not released June 16 after allies in North Carolina and Washington D.C. placed extreme pressure on your department.”
“As Wildin’s detainment stretches on, I ask you, Secretary Johnson, to rethink the reasoning behind keeping Wildin and the other young people detained as their high school education slips past them. I ask you to question why someone like Wildin, who has the backing of the Durham City Council, Durham Human Relations Commission, Durham Public Schools’ School Board, and countless schools and community members, are considered threats to their communities.”
Whithaus continues with, “Stop the raids, free these youth. [Find] a new approach to curb undocumented immigration that does not tear apart schools and communities across the United States. “
There is more, but the last here is the amazing story of the roadtrip many from Wildin’s school community took to the private prison in Georgia to visit him and the other NC 6.
“By the time the courtroom opened, the visitors from afar, 30 of us at this point, were causing a problem. It was clear that the presence of supporters and family members was not a normal occurrence. We couldn’t all fit into the courtroom. There were 13 bond hearings that morning and only four detainees had legal representation. Students like Wildin, seeking refuge from dangerous conditions in their home countries, are treated as criminals.”
‘It is my job to give Wildin hope’ – Mika Hunter Twietmeyer, 7/24/16, at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/durham-news/dn-opinion/article91258667.html
Acosta’s Durham community managed to keep his case alive in the hearts and minds of his Durham school community, city community, and in the news. If only more people would pay attention and make ICE stop treating people so terribly. It is up to us to make them change.