Students, supporters fight for Durham teen's education

DURHAM (WTVD) -- The fight to bring a teenager back to Riverside High for graduation took center stage in downtown Durham.

Dozens of students, teachers and even the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators took part in a rally Thursday evening on Durham's CCB Plaza downtown.

"We have a child sitting in a jail cell in Georgia that should be in a classroom right now," said Rodney Ellis, President of the NCAE.

In January, ICE agents took Wildin Acosta from his home in Durham. He's now being held in a Georgia jail awaiting deportation back to Honduras, where his family fears for his safety.

Acosta was a student at Riverside High School and was looking forward to graduating with his class, but rally organizers say he's missed the entire third quarter of the school year.

ABC11 was told that if he doesn't get back to school in time for the fourth quarter, by Monday, April 4, he won't be able to graduate with his classmates in June.

"He should be with his family and friends, but they've got him in a jail and he hasn't committed a single crime so I feel like it's an injustice," Ellis said.

We spoke to his mother shortly after it happened during a vigil for Acosta and several other teenagers facing the same fate.

RELATED: Deportation vigil held in Durham for four NC teens

Acosta's mother said her son was allowed into this country because he was under age at the time, but that he falls under President Obama's immigration plan. The plan stipulates anyone arriving to the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2014, be deported.

Several of Acosta's classmates and teachers participated in Thursday's rally. They talked about how Acosta was looking forward to graduation and how he worked hard in school. They say he's even been trying to get school work sent to him in his jail cell in Georgia so he doesn't fall behind, but they say they were told that's not allowed.

Another Durham County teacher, Holly Hardin, said what happened to Acosta is scaring students in her class right now, making it hard for her to teach.

"It's affecting Wildin and many kids, even students who aren't under threat of being separated are coming to school scared that their families are going to be taken away from them, their friends are going to be taken away from them, and I can't teach kids which is my job if they're coming to class scared," Hardin said.

Recently, Acosta's family's attorney said a stay has been granted in the appeals process, stopping the deportation for now.

RELATED: Stay granted for Durham teen facing deportation

That appeals process could take weeks, so his family, friends and teachers, hope Acosta will be able to wait it out at home and graduate with his class.

Outside of the rally on CCB Plaza, people in the crowd say they are continuously writing letters to lawmakers to try to bring Acosta home.

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