Teachers send homework to Durham student detained by immigration officials

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A young man fears if he’s deported, he’ll be killed.

Wildin David Guillen-Acosta was going to school in Durham until last month when immigration officials took him into custody. He’s being held at a facility in Georgia.

His family and his teachers came together Friday to call for his return to Durham.

“He’s being labeled as some kind of internal threat to the security of the united states. He’s a kid sitting in a detention cell hoping to get his homework, so that he can graduate on time,” said Bryan Proffitt, president of the Durham Association of Educators.

A spokesman for ICE says border patrol agents spotted Wildin trying to enter the country illegally in June 2014. An immigration judge ordered him removed from the U.S. in March 2015. He was taken into custody last month as he left his home, according to ICE.

In a statement to WNCN, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said, “As part of the civil immigration enforcement priorities announced by Secretary Johnson in November 2014, ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.

This includes individuals, whether alone or with family members, who have been apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, recent border crossers, and individuals who have received a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.”

Acosta had been attending classes at Riverside High School in Durham.

Teachers gathered in CCB Plaza in Durham Friday afternoon to mail him a care package containing his homework. They said he requested it, so he could continue his studies in the hope he’ll make it back to Durham to graduate this spring.

“I think the saddest thing for me is I keep saying it’s going to be OK, but I can’t promise that,” said teacher Ellen Holmes.

Katherine Acosta wrote a letter to her brother to send with the homework.

Through a translator, she told us he’s scared about what awaits him in Honduras.

“He’s very sad and worried about what’s going to happen to him,” she said.

Viridiana Martinez said he came here to escape gang violence.

She said a gang in Honduras wanted to “force him to join them, and by join them it was kill somebody.”

Attendance at Riverside dropped around the time Acosta was arrested, as other students feared the same thing would happen to them. A spokeswoman for Durham Public Schools says attendance has improved since then but could not provide specific figures.

Alice Domínguez, a 9th grade teacher in Durham, said her students are anxious about immigration raids being carried out across the country.

“They’re concerned, you know, about when they come home from school, they’re concerned about family members still being there,” she said.

Though a judge ordered Acosta be removed from the U.S. last March, Viridinia Martinez said his attorney filed a motion Friday to reopen the case.

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