US Sen. Bob Casey is lashing out at the Trump administration for deporting a Honduran mother and son he says are at risk of getting killed by gang members.
In a series of tweets Wednesday, the lawmaker accused US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of sending the two back into danger. He included an image of a letter he sent to President Donald Trump about the case.
"This 5yo and his mother aren't 'bad hombres,'" he tweeted, making reference to a term Trump regularly uses. "They aren't in a gang, they're running from death vulnerable, and scared."
He implored the government to find a way to bring them back. Gang members are looking for the woman after she fled Honduras in 2015 with her son after she witnessed the murder of her cousin, according to Casey.
She crossed the border in Texas, and after she and her son were detained, she told border patrol agents she was afraid to return to Honduras.
For over a year, they have been held at a family detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania, which is Casey's home state.
"We are better than this, " he wrote in the letter. "You have the power to help this child return to safety."
No more legal options
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the woman had ran out of legal options.
"It's unfortunate that politicians are repeating misleading information and in the process, demonizing the men and women whose job it is to enforce the laws Congress writes," said Liz Johnson, assistant director at ICE.
She said the woman entered the US unlawfully on Dec. 17, 2015, and was detained the following day.
She was deported Wednesday after her claims were denied at multiple levels. She had exhausted all legal remedies available, Johnson said.
Before her deportation, her case had been denied by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the US Supreme Court, according to Johnson.
ICE officials contacted Casey's office about the case and provided information as it became available, she said.
Deported during phone call
Carol Anne Donahoe, an attorney for the mother, said the son is eligible for special immigrant juvenile status and they had initiated his application process. She declined to name them out of fear for their security in Honduras.
"The family has already been contacted by persecutors saying they know they are coming back into the country," Donahoe said.
Attorneys for the woman received a call from another detainee at the center with news of the deportation Wednesday morning, she said. At the time of the call, they had been driven to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.
Attorneys quickly jumped into action, scheduling a 10:15 a.m. conference call with government attorneys and their case's presiding judge. They had hoped that the government would hold off on the deportation given the son's special immigrant juvenile status application process.
However, halfway through the 45-minute call, government attorneys told them the family had just been escorted onto a flight bound for Honduras.
When he was informed of the deportation, Casey called Homeland Security and ICE, and left messages he says have not been returned.
He also spoke with Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff. Casey's press secretary Jacklin Rhoads said there has been no progress since the calls.
"The senator thinks this is an atrocity contrary to all our American values," Rhoads said.