California and at least nine other states are planning to sue the Trump administration over its separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the president's executive order halting the practice is riddled with caveats and fails to reunite parents and children who have already been torn apart.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson made the announcement Thursday outside a federal prison in the city of SeaTac, south of Seattle, where about 200 immigration detainees had been transferred. They include dozens of women separated from their children under the administration's "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all migrants caught illegally entering the country. "This is a rogue, cruel and unconstitutional policy," Ferguson said. "We're going to put a stop to it."
Immigration authorities have separated about 2,300 children from their parents under the policy over the last several weeks, prompting global outrage as images and recordings of weeping children emerged. After falsely blaming Democrats for the separations and insisting that only Congress could fix it, President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued an executive order designed to end the practice. The order does nothing to reunite those already separated and might require families to remain in custody together longer than allowed under legal precedent, Inslee and Ferguson said.
Confusion reigned Thursday about whether the administration intended to continue criminally prosecuting all illegal border crossers. Meanwhile, a judge in San Diego is already considering whether to issue a nationwide injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union that would order the administration to reunite the separated children with their parents.
With files from the Associated Press
With guest host Libby Denkmann
Andrew Nietor, immigration and criminal defense attorney; president of the board of directors of Federal Defenders of San Diego, who works with migrant families seeking asylum at the border