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Washington, Other States To Sue Trump Administration Over Family Separation

Will James
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his intent Thursday, June 21, to join several other states in suing the Trump administration over its family separation policy.

Washington is leading a coalition of states planning to sue the Trump administration over its policy of separating children from parents who are detained while crossing illegally or seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the plan at a news conference Thursday outside a federal detention center in SeaTac, where dozens of women have been detained far from their children.

The announcement comes a day after President Donald Trump said he would end the policy, which his administration announced two months ago.

But Ferguson said a lawsuit is still necessary because Trump's executive order leaves doubt as to whether the separations will actually end and whether more than 2,000 children will be reunited with their parents. 

"The executive order is riddled with so many caveats that he essentially makes it meaningless," Ferguson said.

He said ending the separations, under the executive order, would require appropriations by Congress and action by a judge, neither of which are certain. A judge would have to overturn a settlement preventing children from being held in detention for more than 20 days.

At least 10 other states are joining Washington in the effort, including California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Ferguson said more could join as well.

Ferguson said he plans to file the lawsuit in federal court in Seattle in a matter of days.

The lawsuit, he said, will challenge the constitutionality of the separations, claiming they violate due process rights and equal protection guarantees.

"It only targets people crossing our southern border, not any other entrance to the United States," Ferguson said.

Washington's lawsuit will follow one filed earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union and an announcement Wednesday by leaders in New York State that they are planning a lawsuit of their own

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.