A group of states led by Washington are suing the Trump administration over its family separation policy. “This is a rogue, cruel, and unconstitutional policy,” Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson said in a press release which quotes just about every major Democratic politician in the Seattle area. “We’re going to put a stop to it.”
The coalition of states filed the lawsuit any despite Donald Trump’s enormously confusing executive order today that would supposedly stop family separation. Ferguson’s office says that aside from the fact that the executive order doesn’t address the families who have already been split up, it’s “riddled with so many caveats as to be meaningless.”
Ferguson’s office says the basis for the lawsuit is that it violates the families’ right to due process, and is “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 AG’s office also says the lawsuit will also argue that the administration is breaking U.S. asylum laws by turning people away at ports of entry.
According to Ferguson’s office, approximately 200 immigrants were detained in Washington as of yesterday, including 174 women. “More than a third” of the women have also been forcibly separated from their children, Ferguson’s office says, the youngest of which are just a year old.
Ferguson’s office also describes horrific conditions at the prison in SeaTac, Washington, which Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal visited last week. Per the release, emphasis mine:
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.
One mother at the SeaTac prison brought her 8-year-old son from El Salvador, seeking asylum because of death threats from a violent gang. Instead of finding safety, her son was taken as soon as she entered the country. She was told that having her child taken was “the price you have to pay” for coming here, and to “tell everyone back home not to come here, or we will take their children just like we took yours.”
She last saw her child 31 days ago, and has no idea where he is, who is taking care of him, or whether he is safe.
“Make no mistake: the president’s latest executive order seeks to indefinitely detain children and their parents and continues to criminally prosecute asylum-seekers,” Jayapal said in the release. “It is no solution to this crisis.”
In addition to Washington, the Washington attorney general’s office said in a press release that Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and the District of Columbia are joining onto the lawsuit. Ferguson said he expects more states to sign on once the lawsuit is actually filed.
“We are filing this lawsuit because ripping children from their parents is unlawful, wrong and heartless,” California AG Xavier Becerra said in a separate press release. “President Trump yesterday signed an empty and meaningless order that claims to take back policies that he put in place himself as a political stunt.”
The release notes that this is Ferguson’s 27th lawsuit against the Trump administration, and touts that so far, he’s 9-0. Part of that is due to the fact that the Ninth Circuit leans to the left, which means conservatives, including Trump, predictably think its very unfair. (Never hear a peep about the Fifth Circuit, though.)
“We have no way to predict from one day to the next what this president’s policies or intentions are,” Washington governor Jay Inslee said in the release. “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.”