As outrage over President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy continues to bubble, a group of Democratic attorneys general from 17 states, including Washington, are suing to force the Trump administration to reunite migrant families who have been separated at the US-Mexico border.
In what may be simply a coincidence, the new lawsuit was filed just hours after the Supreme Court overturned a series of lower court rulings blocking the third version of President Trump's travel ban, which stoked opposition among the same group of attorney generals.
The group filed the lawsuit in a US District Court in Seattle on Tuesday: it's the first legal challenge to the practice made by US states, and accuses the administration of denying the migrants the right to due process and their right to seek asylum, the Associated Press reported.
Before Trump signed his executive order ending the separations, US authorities had separated 2,300 children from their parents in recent weeks, triggering widespread condemnation as photos and audio recordings of weeping children emerged. Furthermore, the AGs argued that Trump's executive order is riddled with caveats and, importantly, fails to require that families are reunited.
The lawsuit says the migrants have been denied due process and their right to seek asylum.
Meanwhile, in what seems to us like a bizarre request given that they've been detained for a reason, immigrant-rights advocates are asking a federal judge to order the release of the parents who were separated from their children at the border, as dozens of demonstrators were arrested Tuesday at a rally ahead of a Los Angeles appearance by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The court action was brought by the Los Angeles-based pro bono law firm Public Counsel on behalf of three Central American mothers whose children were detained by ICE in April, the AP reports.
"These parents are terrified for their children and want nothing more than to ensure the scarring that this experience has already caused does not continue to inflict irreparable harm," Judy London, a Public Counsel attorney, said in a statement.
The administration has asked a federal court in Los Angeles to let authorities detain families together for an extended period during immigration proceedings. Under a 1997 court settlement, children must be released from detention as quickly as possible.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his department still has 2,047 immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border in custody. That is only six fewer children than the number in HHS custody as of last Wednesday. Outrage over the US's handling of the minors in custody exploded yet again following reports that a 15-year-old Honduran boy walked off one Texas facility, allegedly to find his parents.