CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte high school student has been detained by federal immigration authorities after he was arrested for stealing from his job.
Now, his friends are trying to raise money to get him a lawyer in hopes he won’t be deported.
Gus Zamudio was set to graduate from Northwest School of the Arts in May, but now he’s being held at an immigration detention center in Georgia.
“He’s barely 18 and he’s in jail for being an immigrant,” Gus’ friend Mario told NBC Charlotte Sunday.
“I've cried, it's been really super hard. He scared, he's alone, and there's nothing we can do to help.”
Zamudio turned 18 just a few weeks ago. Last Sunday he was arrested for stealing from his workplace and was detained by ICE authorities.
“You don't expect for it to hit that close to home,” Gus’ friend Devyn Bauer said. “And now it has, so everybody's just kind of really shook by the whole thing.”
Zamudio’s friends say he’s supposed to be federally protected from deportation under DACA, since he entered the US from Mexico more than a decade ago, as a minor.
They believe their friend is innocent of the theft charge.
“I couldn't believe it I just sat there and I said what? He sounded so scared so nervous,” Mario explained. “That's the thing that broke my heart the most, to hear him trying to be so strong. But being completely broken.”
Mario and Devyn have started a GoFundMe to cover Gus’ legal fees, with the hope that their friend won’t be forced to leave the country.
“We're not giving up,” Mario said. “We’re going to fight for him until the end.”