On Wednesday, a Democratic senator from Pennsylvania live-tweeted his attempt to stop a family of two asylum-seekers from being sent back to their native country of Honduras, which they fled after being threatened by gang members. Senator Bob Casey went on a tweet storm, pleading for a Honduran mother and her 5-year-old son to remain in the United States, where they are safe. Earlier, the Trump administration had ordered them to board a plane to their home country on Wednesday, sparking outrage among people like Casey.
The Senator tweeted that the Department of Homeland Security had allegedly said it won't disclose whether the mother and her son are still in the United States or have reached Honduras. Bustle reached out to the DHS for comment. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' Joanne Talbot responded via email:
"This woman was in Honduras. She witnessed a murder. And because of that, she has been pursued by gangs," Casey said in an interview with MSNBC. "We should protect her and her son."
After arriving in America, the mother and child were denied asylum and detained at an immigration detention facility in Pennsylvania in December 2015. Although the mother attempted to have the rejection of her asylum status overturned, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear her case. According to Casey, however, her young son potentially qualified for Special Immigrant Juveniles status, a policy that would exempt him from deportation. Although the child had a legal right to appear in front of a judge to claim this status, he and his mother were deported on Wednesday.
Casey began documenting the family's saga around noon when he received word that the pair was being put on a plane back to Honduras by the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Twitter: it's urgent. I just found out that a young child & her mother who came to U.S. seeking refuge will be sent back to Honduras today.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Worst part: According to lawyers @DHSgov knew darn well that 5yr old & mother had secured paperwork to protect them & they rushed removal.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Casey stated in his over 40-Tweet thread that he has consistently voted in favor of tightening border security, but that there is a difference between targeting "bad hombres," as Trump refers to them, and deporting vulnerable children who are, according to Casey, in imminent danger of being harmed when they return to their home country.
I've voted to double the number of border patrol agents, add 700 miles of fencing and mandate 24-hour surveillance of the border.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
What I won't do: stand by silently as a vulnerable child and his mother are sent to their possible death.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Casey frantically tagged President Trump and various White House agencies in his posts, urging them to "do the right thing." He even spoke to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus by phone, who assured him that the administration was "looking into" the incident. Casey fruitlessly attempted to contact other White House officials to find out which flight the family was on.
The latest: Admin ordered the family on the plane. There are two flights they could be on: one direct to Honduras another with a layover.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
If this 5yr old and his mother are on the flight with a layover, then the Admin can still save them from this potential death sentence.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
If 5yr old & mother are on the direct flight it may be too late. Working the phones to try to find out which flight they're on.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Admin refuses to tell me whether they were placed on a direct flight or one with a layover. Infuriating. @flightaware is interesting, fwiw— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Casey claims he was told by DHS officials that only President Trump could reverse the deportation, so he then made an impassioned plea to the White House in an afternoon interview on MSNBC.
This kind of action makes us less safe. We should be protecting this family, not sending them into harm's way. pic.twitter.com/zeeFHmKIsd— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Ultimately, Casey was unable to get any kind of definitive answer on the fate of the family from the Trump administration, though ICE officials told him that the two were "gone." Casey questioned why the government would expend so much time and energy on removing a harmless child from the country, and stated that whatever happens to the young boy is a direct result of the administration's decisions.
We may never find out what happens to this child & his mother, but their fates should weigh on the conscious of this Administration.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 4, 2017
Throughout his presidency, Trump has vowed to increase deportation raids in a "military-style operation" and to ensure that ICE agents remove "bad hombres" from the country. In February, the Trump Administration detained over 600 immigrants in a single week, according to the Department of Homeland Security. And if this incident that Casey was ultimately unable to prevent is any indication for the future, this trend could continue throughout the remainder of Trump's term.