Wildin Acosta, with his wife, Angela, speaks during a press conference in Durham Friday about a deportation order issued against him last month.
Despite a looming deportation order, Wildin Acosta is trying to stay optimistic.
He's been fighting his case for two years
, since being picked up by immigration agents outside his Durham home while on his way to class at Riverside High School. He plans to appeal the newly issued order.
During a press conference Friday, Acosta said he has done his best to laugh despite the many "bad things" that have happened to him in the past two years. It was harder to stay positive during about seven months in an immigration detention center, including time spent in solitary confinement, before being released on bail.
"I remain faithful in God that things will turn out for the better," he said through a translator.
After asking for a continuance of his case, Acosta expected to head back to Charlotte immigration court on Thursday but instead was ordered removed from the country and sent back to Honduras. He has until January 11 to appeal the order, and intends to do so, citing a pending visa application seeking lawful status now that he is married to a U.S. citizen, his high school sweetheart.
The removal order was issued December 12, but Acosta said he didn't make the news public because he was hoping to hear more from the courts.
A deportation would not only rip the twenty-one-year-old from his parents, who came to North Carolina before him, and his new wife, it would also send him back to a country just as dangerous and perhaps more unstable now than when he fled for his life. Acosta came to the U.S. in 2014 under threat from gang members.
Late last year, a contested (and maybe rigged) presidential election sparked violent protests in Honduras, including in Acosta’s home province of Olancho.
“I know it sounds conspiratorial,” a local journalist, who requested anonymity, told The Intercept
, “but Olancho and the whole eastern fringe of the country are covered in a sort of fog, more than anything due to the drugs that move through the place.”
Although the country’s murder rate has been falling in recent years, Honduras is still considered one of the deadliest places
in the world outside of a combat zone. As of Tuesday, thirty-one people had died
in the post-election unrest.
For those who have supported Acosta along the way, the past two years have been a roller-coaster of uncertainty, fear, victories big and small, and waiting for a shrouded, drawn-out process to take its course. This was not the outcome they had hoped to see.
Classmates traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby on his behalf, teachers accompanied him to court in Charlotte, and elected officials wrote letters to ICE warning that Acosta would not only face grave danger if deported but that Durham would lose a valued member of the community.
Viridiana Martinez, director of Alerta Migratoria, an advocacy group that has supported Acosta since his case began, questioned whether he would be in this position if not for previous attorneys she says didn't do their jobs.
"This is a pattern we as an organization keep seeing over and over and over again happening with lots of immigrant, lots of people out there who are misinformed, who don't speak the language, so there's a language barrier," she said. " ... There are several hurdles immigrants and refugees have to go to through already to navigate the system, let alone if your attorney is doing what they're supposed to or not."
Acosta, whose graduation from Riverside
was almost derailed by his detention, said he wants to go to college but hasn't been able to because of his immigration case. Now, he fears for his life if he returns to Honduras.
"It’s scary," said Acosta's wife, Angela Campos. "You can't be relaxed knowing any moment they could say he’s getting deported, so I'm hoping everything turns out OK."