(pictured above: Wildin Acosta reunited with his mother and NC educators protesting for Wildin’s release)
By Sabrina Holcomb
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After an unprecedented outpouring of love and support from educators, classmates, and community, North Carolina high school student Wildin Acosta is finally home after six nerve-wracking months at a detention center for undocumented immigrants.
We’re very excited and relieved to have him home,” affirms Ellen Holmes, one of the educators who has worked tirelessly for his release. “I’m proud that everyone in Durham and beyond came together to fight for him. It just proves that when you unite and have one voice, you can make change.
Wildin became the face of the newest wave of ICE raids—students seized by immigration agents on their way to school—after he was taken into custody late January. Since then, Wildin, who is seeking asylum in the U.S., has spent six months in a Georgia detention center, in constant fear of deportation back to the violent conditions he fled in Honduras.
Over the past six months, educators and students have worked closely with Wildin’s family and immigration advocates to free Wildin. The teenager was scheduled for a bond hearing last week when the judge suddenly approved the bond sans hearing after learning that a large community delegation planned to show up. The swift granting of the bond, say Wildin’s supporters, is a lesson in the power of community organizing.
“From a teacher’s point of view,” says Holmes, “it’s a great lesson for my students. Stand up for what you believe in. You do have a voice.”
As happy as Wildin’s Riverside High school family will be to “see his face” when he starts the new school year, they haven’t forgotten the other young students who are still incarcerated as a result of the ICE raids.
An open letter by the Durham Association of Educators called for the immediate release of students who are being denied access to teachers, homework, and graduation, even as they suffer declining mental and physical health.
“As we celebrate Wildin’s positive outcome,” says Holmes, “we need to remember there are many more students in detention. We won’t stop fighting until they stop deporting our youth.”