Wash. State Attorney General To Lead Coalition of States In Suing Trump Administration
Over border family separations
June 21, 2018
Suit claims Executive order does not fix unlawful policy
CLICK TO ENLARGE: At Left: Washington Governor Jay Inslee. To his right, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
(SEATTLE, WA.) — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced he will lead a coalition of states in challenging the Trump Administration’s policy of forced family separation on the U.S. southern border.
The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. When the lawsuit is filed, it will be Ferguson’s 27th against the Trump Administration. Ferguson has nine legal victories thus far and has not lost a case against the Administration.
“This is a rogue, cruel, and unconstitutional policy,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to put a stop to it.”
“We have no way to predict from one day to the next what this president’s policies or intentions are,” Governor Jay Inslee said in a joint statement issued Thursday. “But one thing we know for sure is Washington state will always be among the first to stand up for the people and the values that make our state and our nation an enduring beacon of hope and opportunity. These cruel policies and this executive order are un-American and create chaos, fear and uncertainty. Washington continues to stand ready to ensure this president is held accountable.”
Gathered outside the federal prison where dozens of affected parents have been held, Ferguson and Inslee announced the upcoming lawsuit at a press conference today, along with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) Executive Director Jorge Barón. Barón also announced that NWIRP intends to file a similar lawsuit in the near future on behalf of individuals affected by the policy.
The states’ lawsuit will allege the Administration has violated the constitutional due process rights of the parents and children by separating them as a matter of course and without any finding that the parent poses a threat to the children. The policy is also irrationally discriminatory, in violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, because it targets only people crossing our southern border, and not anyone crossing the Northern border or entering the United States elsewhere.
The states will also argue that this policy once again violates the Administrative Procedure Act, because it is arbitrary and capricious, and that the Administration has been violating U.S. asylum laws by turning people away at ports of entry.
“The states will ask the President to comply with the law and the Constitution. For starters, by correcting the egregious flaws in the executive order, starting by creating a process to reunify the thousands of families torn apart by a cruel and unconstitutional policy, and immediately halting the practice of refusing to accept asylum petitions at the border,” said the joint statement.
Problems with executive order
Washington and the states were poised to file the lawsuit today. Despite President Donald Trump’s previous claims that an executive order could not reverse his family separation policy, on Wednesday he issued an order purporting to do just that.
Following a close review of the order, the Attorney General’s Office found two main problems.
First, the order does nothing to reunify families already torn apart by the Trump Administration’s policy.
“Second, the order is riddled with so many caveats as to be meaningless. For example, the order requires appropriations, although the total amount is unknown, as is the timeline for when or if such an appropriation would happen. It also relies on a federal judge approving a plan to indefinitely detain children, a scenario Ferguson described at the press conference as unlikely,” said the statement.
Mothers, children detained in Washington
Ferguson says of the approximately 200 immigrants detained in Washington as of June 19, 2018, 174 are women, and more than a third of those women are mothers forcibly separated from their children. Those children range in age from one year old to teens. Most of these mothers have been in detention for more than two weeks and many for more than a month.
Most have not spoken with their children in weeks, and the federal government has not provided the mothers with any information regarding the whereabouts or well-being of their children,” said Ferguson
When interviewed by Attorney General’s Office investigators, these women “described the horrific and inhumane conditions at the Border Patrol facilities where they were previously detained. Parents and children were held in rooms nicknamed “ice boxes” because they were so cold. Mothers told AGO investigators there was little to no food, and described drinking water out of a bathroom sink or toilet.”