Senator Urges Trump Admin to Halt Deportation of Girl Who Fled Violent Threats After Reporting Father For Sexual Abuse

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has joined calls for the Trump administration to halt the deportation of a 16-year-old girl who fled to the U.S. from Honduras after she faced threats of violence for reporting her father for sexual abuse.

Identified only as "AMPV," the 16-year-old girl is expected to be deported back to Honduras at 8 a.m. on Friday morning, despite fears that she could face violence if she returns to her home country, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Young Center For Immigrant Children's Rights have warned on Twitter.

"We need your help. We have 12 hours before ICE deports an unaccompanied 16-year-old girl ('AMPV' to Honduras, where she fled threats of violence after reporting her father for sexually assaulting her when she was 13," the Texas Civil Rights Project said.

According to a report from BuzzFeed News, the teenager had faced threats from her uncle, who has served time in prison for murder, after her father was arrested and sent to prison.

The girl had initially tried to flee to the U.S. with her mother, but after they lost their asylum case on January 10, they were forced to wait in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, as part of the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" rule, for their appeals case to be processed.

They were given a 30-day window to appeal their case. However, two weeks after being sent to Matamoros, AMPV presented herself at the U.S. border alone to request asylum as an unaccompanied minor.

This is not uncommon. Since the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy came in place, many families forced to wait in Mexico for their cases to be heard have tried to send their children across the border alone in the hopes that they will have a better chance of being accepted into the U.S. as unaccompanied minors.

Otherwise, they risk being forced to wait weeks, if not months, in border towns like Matamoros, which has a level 4 U.S. travel advisory due to high rates of crime and violence, only to face the likelihood of being forced to return to their home countries.

While the hope was that AMPV would be placed in new deportation proceedings as an unaccompanied minor, the Trump administration said she did not have the right to a new case since she had made her plea before the 30-day window for her existing appeals case had closed.

After the Texas Civil Rights Project implored its supporters to contact ICE and their members of Congress, Merkley appeared to respond to the call, demanding a halt to the 16-year-old's deportation.

"Expelling a 16-year-old girl who has suffered extreme abuse without providing her rights for asylum proceedings is something we could never have expected from any U.S. [government]," Merkley, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet.

"This deportation needs to stop. She must be afforded full rights [and] gracious treatment worthy of the USA," he said.

The senator's call came as the girl's case gained growing attention, with even celebrity Blake Lively demanding that the deportation be stopped.

"URGENT!! We only have a FEW HOURS to help. PLEASE CALL 956.389.7860 or 956.389.7800 and demand that ICE allow the child's case to proceed in court," Lively tweeted on Thursday.

She also shared a "sample script" for followers to call with: "Hi, I'm calling to ask ICE to stop the deportation of AMPV, a 16yo girl who is escaping violence and death threats. She's scheduled to be deported tomorrow, April 24, from the Rio Grande Valley and I'm gravely concerned for her safety."

With just hours left to go before the 16-year-old is expected to be deported, it is unclear whether calls from immigration advocates, politicians and celebrities will be enough to see the girl's deportation halted.

If a judge does intervene in the deportation, the girl would likely have to continue her fight to stay in the U.S. and it is unclear when, if ever, she would be able to reunite with her mother.

Newsweek has contacted ICE, the White House, the Texas Civil Rights Project and Merkley's office for comment.

Deportation
A protester calls for the protection of migrant children on June 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. A 16-year-old girl is facing deportation after fleeing to the U.S. over threats of violence after reporting her father for sexual abuse. Mario Tama/Getty
Senator Urges Trump Admin to Halt Deportation of Girl Who Fled Violent Threats After Reporting Father For Sexual Abuse | U.S.