Durham County

Riverside High school graduate Wildin Acosta to face tough immigration judge

Wildin Guillen Acosta awaits his introduction at a news press conference on Aug. 29, 2016 in Durham. Acosta was a student at Riverside High School in Durham when he was arrested in January 2016. He entered the United States illegally and faces deportation to Honduras.
Wildin Guillen Acosta awaits his introduction at a news press conference on Aug. 29, 2016 in Durham. Acosta was a student at Riverside High School in Durham when he was arrested in January 2016. He entered the United States illegally and faces deportation to Honduras. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Wildin Acosta will make his final bid for asylum in the United States when he appears in Charlotte Immigration Court on Tuesday morning.

If Judge V. Stuart Couch rules against Acosta, the Riverside High School graduate will have 30 days to appeal or face an order of removal, which could lead to his deportation to Honduras.

The immigration-focused activist organization Alerta Migratoria NC wrote in an email that Couch denied 81.6 percent of asylum cases during fiscal years 2011-16.

As he left his home for school Jan. 28, 2016, Acosta was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for being in the country illegally and missing a mandatory court appearance.

After spending more than six months in Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, he was released on $10,000 bail.

“I know what it means to be a refugee,” Acosta said at a rally in February. Of his time in detention, he added, “It’s the hardest thing that can happen to you.”

Acosta has received support from members of the larger Durham community, including teachers, fellow students, Durham city officials and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who sought his release and a hearing to consider his request for asylum.

Acosta told immigration authorities he was fleeing gang violence in his native Honduras when he was stopped at the Texas border in 2014.

He attended a court hearing on Dec. 17, 2014, but failed to show up for one in March 2015.

Acosta’s arrest came a part of ICE’s nationwide campaign to locate and deport immigrants who crossed the border illegally.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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