On Wednesday, a woman and her 5-year-old son were deported to their native Honduras, where, the mother says, they face a death threat. The two had been held for over two years in the Berks County Residential Center, near Reading, Pa., as their claim for asylum worked its way through the courts and was ultimately rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Supreme Court.
Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, took to Twitter to try to stop the deportation, which he said could “very likely lead to their death.” The woman claims to have fled Honduras after she witnessed the murder of her cousin and became the target of gangs. The mother and son were in federal court on Wednesday seeking special immigrant juvenile status for the boy when the order for their immediate deportation came from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The gangs will target this mother and her child the moment they land in Honduras, yet Trump admin insists on this cruel policy.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Senator Casey tweeted live updates of the proceedings and called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and President Trump himself to intervene to stop the deportation. The senator said in a series of tweets that he had voted for strengthened border protections and fixes to the immigration system, but he refused to “stand by silently as a vulnerable child and his mother are sent to their possible death.”
His pressure campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.
This is not the first high-profile deportation of the Trump administration. In early February, the mother of two American-born children was detained and deported to Mexico after showing up for what she assumed was a routine check in with I.C.E. And on Feb. 17, Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, a 23-year-old “Dreamer” who had lived in the United States since age 9, was deported after he forgot his wallet in a friend’s car and was unable to provide proof of his protected status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
While Mr. Trump said he would “show big heart” when it comes to Dreamers (undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children), his directives on immigration give I.C.E. wide discretion in who they target for deportation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, “All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”
Following the deportation, Senator Casey criticized the Trump administration for wasting resources on deporting a vulnerable family instead of “targeting an individual who posed a threat to our nation.”
The latest on the 5yr old & his mother: it's very likely that they are on the ground in Honduras and that's a potential death sentence.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 4, 2017
“We may never find out what happens to this child & his mother,” he said in a tweet, “but their fates should weigh on the conscious of this Administration.”