Wildin Acosta, center, and his supporters celebrate outside of Charlotte immigration court on Tuesday. A judge continued his asylum case until December. Acosta was detained by ICE in January 2016, when he was a student at Riverside High School.
Wildin Acosta, whose drawn-out deportation case has rallied the support of Durham residents and leaders, has been ordered removed from the country.
Acosta plans to appeal the deportation order, according to Viridiana Martinez, with Alerta Migratora, and has until January 11 to do so. He has a visa application pending seeking lawful resident status since marrying his high school sweetheart, who is a U.S. citizen, last year.
The Durham resident was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement outside his home on his way to Riverside High School in January 2016. He was one of several North Carolina teens swept up
as part of an immigration enforcement push aimed at minors who crossed the U.S. border alone.
Acosta came to the United States from Honduras in 2014. Like many unaccompanied minors, he was apprehended at the border before being released to his family. About a year later, he missed a court date and was issued a deportation order.
He had sought asylum in the U.S. on the grounds that he would face persecution for his religious beliefs if he returns to Honduras. A devout Christian, he had been targeted for trying to evangelize members of the M-18 gang.
Acosta was held in a Georgia detention center for six months before being released on bond, later graduating from Riverside.
His case has remained in the spotlight
throughout, as teachers, classmates and elected officials lobbied for the deportation proceedings to be halted.
After multiple continuances, Judge Stuart Couch was expected to hand down a decision on Acosta's case in December. But at that hearing, Acosta withdrew his application asylum and submitted two new items: one to close his case administratively and one to continue it based on attorney negligence and his pending visa application.
At the time, Couch continued the case to tomorrow, January 4, but cautioned he could make a decision before then. According to the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Acosta was ordered removed on December 12.