Durham, NC teachers celebrate the forthcoming release of Wildin Acosta and call for the immediate release of the remaining detained students and the dismantling of ICE
We, as members of the Durham Association of Educators, are writing today to lift up the importance of community-based organizing coupled with legal support. After 6 months in detention, our student Wildin Guillen Acosta is finally scheduled to come home to Durham. At the same time, at least 9 other NC and GA youth remain detained in Georgia and so we call for the immediate release of these young people.
Last night, Wildin’s lawyer confirmed that the Judge had cancelled the full bond hearing and granted the $10,000 stipulated bond without the hearing.
Yesterday afternoon, advocates notified Stewart Immigration Court that 15-20 family members, teachers, classmates, and community members would be coming for Wildin Acosta’s bond hearing and asked the Court to ensure everyone could witness the hearing and could bring pen/paper to monitor court proceedings. Shortly after, the Court called back stating that there was a modification in Wildin’s case. Last night, Wildin’s lawyer confirmed that the Judge had cancelled the full bond hearing and granted the $10,000 stipulated bond without the hearing. This means that, once his bond is secured and his paperwork is cleared, Wildin could come home as early as Tuesday night.
The Judge’s approval of Wildin’s stipulated bond after learning that a large community delegation was attending Wildin’s bond hearing affirms the power of community organizing.
Over the last six months, teachers, students and community have worked tirelessly to hold DHS, Courts, and Congress accountable. And so today, with the news of Wildin’s imminent return, we celebrate! We celebrate the calls made, the purple worn, the letters and homework mailed, and the petitions signed. We celebrate the new conversations had in our classrooms and larger community around rethinking immigration and community; the resolutions passed by our school board, the Human Relations Commission, and other community groups; the trips to Stewart Detention and Washington, DC; and the voices that shouted in streets across Durham and throughout the country lifting up this issue. And mostly we celebrate the fact that Wildin will soon be reunited with his family, his community, and his school.
As teachers, it is our duty to protect students from conditions that circumvent learning and are detrimental to their health and safety
Wildin’s release follows the release of Yefri Sorto Hernandez, of Charlotte, and Josue Soriano Cortez, of Thomasville. While three of the original NC-6 are now home, we must continue this fight to free the other young people still in detention as a result of ICE raids. Many, like Wildin, have been there for over 6 months. This includes Pedro Salmeron Salmeron, of Charlotte, who less than two weeks ago was temporarily transferred from Stewart Detention and prepared for deportation.
We are deeply concerned that DHS has subjected these youth to indefinite incarceration, solitary confinement, declining mental and physical health, and denied student access to teachers, homework, and graduation. As teachers, it is our duty to protect students from conditions that circumvent learning and are detrimental to their health and safety; this treatment clearly violates that. Moreover, we know that more than 800 youth have been deported since ICE raids began, including Jose Ismael Alfaro Lainez, sent back to violent conditions from which they were fleeing. Additionally, ICE raids have caused far-reaching trauma beyond the detention center. When children know about the arrest of a fellow student en route to school, they become fearful for themselves and their family members, attendance rates drop, prospective students are dissuaded from ever registering and attending schools, mental and physical health impacts like PTSD rise, and learning is impacted overall.
So while we celebrate Wildin’s anticipated homecoming, we, as Durham teachers, call for the immediate release of the remaining detained students, alongside a moratorium on deportations and the dismantling of ICE, as our students will continue to be detrimentally affected until this occurs. We rejoice that Wildin will finally be free and able to return to his studies. His case undermines any agency argument that the other students must still be incarcerated. Our fight is not over until all of our students can learn in our public school classrooms free from fear. We continue to call on our legislators, DHS, the Obama administration, and those yet to be elected to do all that is in their political power to ensure this happens, so that we, as teachers, can do our jobs.