• April 22nd, 2024
  • Monday, 08:34:35 AM

Felicitaciones Wildin Acosta

Photo: Courtesy NEA Wildin Acosta

A year ago, I had tears in my eyes to learn of one of our students, Wildin Acosta, was taken by ICE agents to be deported. He was in the country living with his family in North Carolina awaiting word on his request for asylum, fleeing the violence of his home country.

When Wildin Acosta left the house to warm up his car on a cold winter day in February 2016, he didn’t know he’d never reach school that morning. Instead, Acosta was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from his front yard as his family looked on in horror.

Acosta was set to graduate from school in May of 2016 and wanted to be an engineer. Rather than the diploma he dreamed of, he now faced deportation, which amounts to a death sentence says his family. The studious teen sought refuge in the United States because he had been issued an ultimatum by an Honduras gang—join or die.

Acosta was arrested after an immigration judge ordered his removal from the country when he didn’t show up for his latest hearing. At a previous hearing, his lawyer told him that he had little chance of being granted asylum, scaring Acosta into not showing up for his next court date.

The devastating impact of the latest ICE raids on students across the country has educators and immigration rights activists questioning the revision in the Department of Justice’s deportation priorities.

We all dream with Wildin for a future where his dreams will come true.
Felicitaciones, mijo. We are proud of you.

Acosta, still determined to graduate, touched everyone when he sent word to his teachers asking them to please send his homework to the detention center last year. Educators, family members, and advocates gathered in solidarity, walking together to the post office to mail Acosta a package with his school work and letters of support.

The teachers and support staff at his high school love this young man.

They contacted the National Education Association (NEA) and other organizations, and together we organized our voices on his behalf.  Against all odds, he was released to the loving arms of his family.

Today, I have tears in my eyes again—this time because I have learned of Wildin’s graduation from high school. This amazing young man received his diploma and the congratulations of the educators, fellow students and their parents in this learning community that has become his extended family.

We all dream with Wildin for a future where his dreams will come true.

Felicitaciones, mijo. We are proud of you.

Lily Eskelsen García is President of the National Education Association.