Why Sen. Casey Just Tried (and Failed) to Stop an ICE Deportation

The senator claimed officials were sending a mother and her five-year-old on "a plane ride that can very likely lead to their death."

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An undocumented immigrant mother and her five-year-old son were reportedly deported from a Berks County immigration detention facility and sent back to Honduras, their native country, yesterday.

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey spent a large chunk of his day fighting the deportation, which he called “a plane ride that can very likely lead to their death.” Casey asked President Donald Trump to intervene in a letter sent to the White House yesterday. 

The mother and son had reportedly been detained at the contentious facility outside Reading since Dec. 18th, 2015. Attorney Bridget Cambria told NBC10 that she was among several attorneys arguing in court on behalf of the woman and her son – who was potentially eligible for special immigrant juvenile status, a program designed to help immigrant children – when they received word that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was in the process of removing the family from the country.

Casey went on a lengthy Twitter rant denouncing the deportation, which gained national attention. The senator claimed that the five-year-old’s “mother witnessed the murder of her cousin in Honduras and was being pursued by gangs.”

“This 5yr old and his mother aren’t ‘bad hombres,'” Casey tweeted. “They aren’t in a gang, they’re running from death- vulnerable and scared.”

In a statement issued yesterday, ICE assistant director Liz Johnson condemned Casey’s tweets and said it was “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.”

Johnson said the mother was deported from the country yesterday “after having exhausted all legal remedies available to her.”

On Tuesday – one day prior – Casey sent a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly requesting “the immediate release of four children and their mothers who are being detained at the Berks County Residential Center.” It’s not clear if the recently-deported mother and child were included on that list.

“The Department of Homeland Security should be focused on apprehending and deporting violent felons and maintaining a secure border, rather than expelling young mothers and children fleeing near certain death in their home countries,” the letter read.

The document was signed by nine other Democratic senators, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and 13 U.S. representatives.

As many as 40 mothers and their children are currently housed at the Berks County facility, one of just three detention centers in the country for undocumented immigrant families (the other two are in Texas). The state Department of Human Services revoked the facility’s license 15 months ago – but a judge overruled that decision last week. The institution is widely protested by immigrant organizations.

Casey’s full Twitter rant:

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.