Editor's Note: Wildin Acosta's hearing has been rescheduled for Oct. 3, 2017.
Wildin Acosta of Durham is scheduled to go before a judge in Charlotte's immigration court on Thursday. The Honduran-born asylum seeker spent more than six months in immigration detention last year before his deportation order was rescinded.
Attorney Evelyn Smallwood says Acosta has a strong case, showing that he faces persecution if he's deported.
“Tomorrow is his chance to present evidence to support his case and so if that judge approves it, then he could grant him asylum in the United States, and if he denies it, then we would have to appeal the case again,” Smallwood said.
Charlotte's immigration court has a tough reputation. The Justice Department shows that Charlotte approved only 17 percent of asylum cases last year.
ICE agents arrested Acosta, now 20, when he was on his way to class at Riverside High School in Durham last year. He spent more than six months in immigration detention after missing a previous hearing.
His last deportation order was rescinded after intervention by high profile individuals, including Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson).
“What happened with his prior deportation order is that that got rescinded and his proceedings got reopened, which means that he now has a change for his asylum case to be heard on the merits,” she said.
As a teenager, Wildin Acosta says he fled gang violence in Honduras. He came to the U.S. illegally in 2014. He said in Honduras, a violent gang was trying to recruit him and he feared being killed if he didn't join the gang or leave the country.