In the latest inhumane act by the U.S. government toward refugees, a 5-year-old boy and his mother were deported to Honduras on Wednesday in spite of the pleas of Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, who argued that their removal would “likely lead to their death.”
According to a tweet by the Democratic Party senator, the two had fled to the United States after the "the 5yr old's mother witnessed the murder of her cousin in Honduras and was being pursued by gangs."
The deportation makes good on U.S. President Donald Trump's menacing rhetoric targeting Central American migrants and refugees.
“They’re killing and raping everybody out there,” the former reality television personality said in a December 2016 TIME Magazine Person of the Year interview. “They’re illegal, and they are finished.”
The mother and son had been held at a family internment facility, euphemistically named the Berks County Residential Center, since Dec. 18, 2015. They were among the 14 so-called “long-term” residents at the notorious detention camp.
Advocates have reported abusive, unhygienic conditions and neglect at the facility, which bills itself as providing a “safe and caring environment” for children and adults. It is one of three detention compounds used by the federal government to incarcerate families.
The pending deportation caught the attention of the Pennsylvania senator on Wednesday afternoon, who tweeted that he had just found out that the two were to be removed from the country later in the day.
Immigration Attorney Bridget Cambria told NBC News that the two detainees had applied for a special juvenile status exception for the young boy.
“We literally were arguing to include this child while immigration was watching the plane take off,” the family's lawyer told the network.
Casey later tweeted several appeals to the Trump administration over the pending deportation, including photos of the detained family, but the efforts were too late.
The senator made an appearance on liberal cable network MSNBC, where he appeared highly upset. He also noted that he had talked to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who said the administration was “looking into it.” Calls to Homeland Security secretary John Kelly and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Thomas Homan, however, remained unanswered.
Following the 2009 Washington-backed coup against popular democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, the Central American nation was plunged into a brutal cycle of gang and state-sanctioned violence. National minorities, Indigenous peoples, social rights advocates and human rights defenders have been targeted for killings in the thousands. The country earned the ignominious title “murder capital of the world” under the neocolonial post-coup government.