Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Thursday responded harshly to Sen. Bob Casey's (D., Pa.) public Twitter attempts to stop the deportation of a 25-year-old mother and her 5-year-old son to Honduras.
Despite Casey's public appeal, Kelly said the senator had never returned his calls to discuss cases of families in detention, Politico reported.
Over the course of Wednesday morning, the Pennsylvania Democrat tweeted dozens of times documenting his attempt to stop the deportation of the pair, whom Casey claimed were "targeted for death" after the woman witnessed her cousin's murder.
Casey tweeted at President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security's account multiple times, calling on Trump, Kelly, and DHS to "do the right thing."
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) May 3, 2017
Speaking the next day at an event on U.S. engagement in Central America hosted by the Atlantic Council, Kelly said that he had called Casey a number of times, but had never heard back from the senator's office.
Jacklin Rhoads, a spokesperson for Casey, told Politico that Kelly's version of events was "more than a little full of it."
"Our office gave Secretary Kelly's team a direct office line, a cell, and email where Senator Casey could be reached quickly," Rhoads said. "While this family was in crisis yesterday, Secretary Kelly did not call. Realizing that he would be asked by press this morning, it appears Secretary Kelly began calling our main office line at 6:30 a.m. this morning when any reasonable person would know that it isn't going to pick up."
While Casey had claimed that the deported woman's life was in danger, Kelly was insistent that she had in fact repeated a series of phrases required to earn her a so-called "credible fear" interview, which could in turn lead to an asylum claim.
"The vast majority of people who come up here, that's the overwhelming number, say exactly the same words because they are schooled by the traffickers to say certain words, to give certain scenarios, which, generally speaking, will get you to remain in the United States, in the system, because of a credible fear claim," Kelly said. "So she did that."
But the woman had exhausted her legal means of relief, insisted Kelly, who said it was his duty as head of DHS to enforce the law's conclusion.
"Over the period of almost two years, I think there were five or six denials. Not by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], not by DHS, not by Kelly, but by the court system that ultimately led to [her] deportation yesterday," he added.
"I say it over and over again: If the laws are not good laws, then change them," Kelly told the audience. "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."