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Wendy Jacobs, Chair 44308 Rivermont Road thar, NC27712 Email: wjacobs@dcone.gov James Hill, Vie-Chair 5505 Lake Elton Road Durham, NC27713 Email: jahill@dconc.gov COUNTY OF DURHAM Heidi Carter 31 Falling Water Drive Durham, NC 27713, Email: hearteridcone.sov Brenda A. Howerton 3325 Tarleton West Durham, NC 27713 Email: bhoweron@deons-g0v Ellen W. Reckhow 1 Pine Top Place BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, Durfimy NC 27705, Email: erockhow@dcone gov August 28, 2017 The Honorable V. Stuart Couch, Immigration Judge United States Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review United States Immigration Court 5701 Executive Center Dr., Suite 400 Charlotte, NC 28212 Dear Judge Couch: Tam Wendy Jacobs, Chair of the Durham Board of County Commissioners, and | appreciate you taking a few minutes from your busy schedule to listen to the concems of all members of our Board regarding a very important matter. Wildin David Guillen Acosta, a young student from Durham, will go before you on Thursday, ‘August 31, 2017 to make his case. Wildin is an asylum seeker from Honduras, one of the deadliest countries in the world. | will share Wildin’s story, and why we believe he should be granted asylum, Wildin was forced to flee his native Honduras, and we believe that returning him to Honduras would put his life in imminent jeopardy. Wildin’s story began when he tried to spread the Word of God to other youth who were members of the M-18 Gang. When the leader of the gang found out, he went looking for Wildin with threats of violence. So Wildin hid in his house for weeks. Sadly, this did not stop the threats. During this time, Wildin’s home was nearly broken into, objects were thrown at the windows, and knife marks were left on the door. Wildin also received threats through text messages which said that the M-18 was watching him, that he needed to pay them money, and that they were going to kill him~all because he tried to evangelize other youth. ‘At this point, Wildin had no other choice but to seek refuge in a safe place, so he made the dangerous trek north to the United States. Since then, Durham has been Wildin’s home. We have welcomed him and are all the better for it. Despite being detained for nine months at Stewart Detention Center, Wildin has persevered and, in June of this same year, he finally graduated from Riverside High Durham County Adminisrative Complex | 200 East Main Street, Durham, NC-27701 | (919) $60-0025 Fax (919) 360-0013 Equal Employmenv/ Affirmative Active Employer | We ‘The Honorable V. Stuart Couch 2 School here in Durham. As a community, we have watched him overcome the many obstacles he has endured, and we could not be more proud of him. Today, as elected officials and community leaders, we write to lend our full support to Wildin, We want Wildin to thrive because he makes Durham a better place. He has journeyed to the United States with courage and faith. He is, in essence, a refugee fleeing for his life under threat of violence and death. Please keep this in mind when you consider his case. In particular, we ask you also to consider the particular violence from the M-18 Gang that Wildin is fleeing: = The Congressional Research Service issued a report on August 29, 2016 that determined the M-18 Gang operates in Honduras where its activities include murder, sex trafficki extortion, money laundering, and drug smuggling. = According to InSight Crime, M-18 is the greatest threat in Central American countries, including Honduras. - According to this report, the gangs, including M-18, “have deeply penetrated the Honduran police, which is one of the most corrupt and mistrusted police forces in Latin America.” We sincerely believe that had Wildin remained in his native Honduras, he would be either missing, badly injured or dead. In preaching the Word of God to gang members, Wildin challenged the M-18 Gang and they targeted him for it. Since members of this criminal organization have infiltrated the police force in Honduras, secking the help of the police would have likely gotten Wildin killed Under these circumstances, it is understandable that Wildin fled. For Wildin the risks of traveling unaccompanied as a minor simply did not match the dangers of staying in Honduras, where his options are to become part of the gangs or be eliminated by the gangs. We ask that you please keep all of these important factors in mind when you rule on Wildin’s case. We in Durham will be anxiously watching and waiting for his safe return from your courtroom on Thursday. Should you need any additional information from me, please contact me at wiacobs@dcone.gov. Respectfully, ew Wendy Jacobs, Chait Durham Board of County Commissioners Durham County Administrative Complex | 200 East Main Sireet, Durham, NC 27701 | (919) $60-0025 Fax (919) 560-0013 Equal Employment/Affirmative Active Emplayer | Website: hup:/wew.deone.gov