WASHINGTON - A Honduran woman who was deported along with her 5-year-old son, both of whom were being detained in Berks County, had run out of legal options, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey launched an all-out effort Wednesday to stop the deportation, firing off more than two dozen tweets against ICE, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Trump administration.
"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 United States unlawfully on December 17, 2015, and was detained the following day. The woman and her son had been held at the Berks County Residential Center in Bern Township for about 18 months, according to attorneys.
She and her son were 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 Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, according to Johnson.
Casey said returning the woman and her son to Honduras put their lives in jeopardy, because the woman had been targeted by gangs after she witnessed the murder of her cousin.
ICE officials said they contacted Casey's office about the case and provided information as it became available, she said.
Carol Anne Donohoe, 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," the Reading attorney said.
Attorneys for the woman learned the news of the deportation order Wednesday morning in a call from another detainee at the center in Berks, she said. At the time of the call, the woman and her son had been driven to JFK International Airport in New York.
Attorneys quickly jumped into action, scheduling a 10:15 a.m. conference call with government attorneys and the presiding judge in the case. They had hoped the government would hold off on the deportation given the application process for the boy's special immigrant juvenile status.
Halfway through the 45-minute call, however, 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 Secretary John Kelly and ICE and left messages he said have not been returned.
"I say it over and over again, if the laws are not good laws, then change them," Kelly said. "Don't call me or Twitter or tweet or go to the press with outrageous stories about how we do business or why we're deporting somebody."
Casey said he also spoke with Reince Priebus, President Trump's chief of staff, and later sent the president a letter and photo of the boy.
"The senator thinks this is an atrocity contrary to all our American values," said Casey's press secretary, Jacklin Rhoads.
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