Butterfield Travels to Georgia Detention Facility to Visit Wildin Acosta
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) released the following statement following his visit to Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, where Wildin Acosta, a Durham, North Carolina high school senior has been detained since late-January by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
“Today, I visited with Wildin Acosta for 35 minutes and was accompanied by Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), whose district includes Lumpkin, Georgia. Wildin is in good health and is eager to return to Durham so that he can reunite with his family and classmates, complete his education at Riverside High School, and live a safe and normal life.
“Wildin shared with me that he came to the United States at the age of 17 to flee serious violence in his native country of Honduras, where his life was in danger every day. Wildin said his parents left Honduras several years earlier and that he was in the care of his older brother. Following violence and repeated threats to his life, he left Honduras on a 17-day journey to the United States seeking asylum. Wildin enrolled in Riverside High School, where he quickly became part of the community. He was well respected by both his teachers and classmates. Upon the advice of his now former attorney, Wildin did not appear in court for his immigration hearing which led to his arrest and detention by ICE in late January.
“Wildin is one of many young people caught in raids conducted by ICE in North Carolina and across the southeast. While the rate of asylum granted to individuals varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction with the national average being 48 percent, it is less than 10 percent in North Carolina. The disparity in these rates and the enforcement actions taken by ICE in North Carolina and the overall functioning of our nation’s immigration system causes me great concern.
“Following my conversation with Wildin, I met with a group of advocates from Durham who are supporting and working to secure Wildin’s release. I spoke with families of other detainees, as well as individuals from both North Carolina and Georgia whose lives have been impacted by ICE’s raids. After speaking with Wildin and the advocates, I now have a deeper appreciation for how complex and emotional our immigration system can be for everyone involved.
“The level of support Wildin has received is incredible and seeing Wildin today was emotional. He is a bright and impressive young man. As Wildin awaits a decision on his appeal pending before the U.S. Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals, I will continue to advocate on Wildin’s behalf and I encourage my colleagues in Congress to do the same. When I return to Washington, I will speak on the House Floor about Wildin’s case so that my colleagues and others know the human cost these ICE’s raids are having on communities like those I represent as well as the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.”