AG Ferguson to lead a multistate lawsuit challenging Trump Administration family separation policy

WASHINGTON - Twenty states - including Washington and Oregon - sued on Monday over the Trump administration's effort to alter a federal agreement that limits how long immigrant children can be kept in detention.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson will file a lawsuit today seeking to block new Trump Administration rules that remove significant protections against the mistreatment of immigrant children and families apprehended at the U.S. border, allowing for their indefinite detention in facilities without adequate standards of care or state oversight.

“This Administration’s cruel immigration policies are reminiscent of shameful chapters in American history — the internment of Japanese Americans, and the forced separation of Native American families,” Ferguson said. “We won’t allow the Trump Administration to drag us back to the devastating and immoral practices of the past.”

“Detaining families indefinitely and needlessly inflicting trauma on young children is not an immigration policy — it’s an abhorrent abuse of power. This administration has intentionally sought to dehumanize and degrade the immigrants at our southern border. The president’s actions and policies are cruel, inhumane and illegal,” Gov. Inslee said. “Washington will fight to stop this unconscionable policy.” 

The new rules, published Friday, override a longstanding court-approved settlement — known as the Flores Agreement — that governs the humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody. Ferguson asserts that the Trump Administration’s new rules unlawfully permit federal officials to detain children and families in unlicensed facilities without adequate standards of care to protect the safety and well-being of immigrant children. The new rule also allows for their prolonged, even indefinite detention.

Ferguson joins 19 other attorneys general today to challenge the Trump Administrations new rules in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. They assert that the new rules are chiefly driven by the Trump Administration’s “stated goal of deterring noncitizens from coming to the United States.”

Interviews with immigrant children and teenagers in Washington state facilites, conducted last month as part of Washington state’s oversight authority, revealed appalling conditions at federal detention facilities. In addition to a lack of toothbrushes, soap or access to showers reported earlier in the media, the children reported extremely cramped cells, younger kids put in cages as punishment and guards throwing food on the ground for children to fight over. Some of their stories are detailed in a declaration Washington expects to file in this case in the coming weeks.

Other states joining the lawsuit are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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