Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson Tuesday formally filed a multistate lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump's "family separation" immigration policy.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican lawmakers in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, in Washington. (Photo: AP)
The legal action led by Ferguson and brought to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington was joined by a coalition comprising the District of Columbia and 17 states, including California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.
The Washington State Attorney General Office said in a statement Tuesday that the Trump administration has "violated the constitutional due process rights of the parents and children by separating without any finding that the parents pose a threat to the children."
"The Administration has been violating federal asylum laws by turning away families that show up at ports of entry seeking asylum," it said.
Describing the case as "something important about who we are as a people," Ferguson said, "We will stand up for the Constitution, basic decency and fundamental American values."
Ferguson and Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced the lawsuit last week outside the federal prison in SeaTac, Washington, where the federal government was detaining dozens of women after forcibly separating their children from them.
The Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on illegal immigration dictates that all immigrants arriving U.S. shores illegally should be handed in for prosecution and detained under federal custody, and that children traveling with their parents will be sent separately to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, where they are supervised by other family members, provided with shelters, or sent to foster homes.
Facing domestic and international backlash, Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday to end the administration's controversial practice of separating migrant children from their parents crossing the U.S. border illegally.
"At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border, and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people who enter our country illegally," Trump said after he signed the executive order.
The Washington Attorney General Office said Trump's executive order does nothing to reunify families already torn apart by his policy, criticizing it as "riddled with so many caveats as to be meaningless."
Tuesday's lawsuit said until Trump signed the executive order, his zero-tolerance policy "had resulted in the separation of over two thousand children from their parents at the Southwestern border, most recently at a rate of 50-70 families separated every day."
"This unlawful practice exacerbates the trauma already suffered by refugee families while simultaneously artificially increasing illegal entry violations," the complaint read.
Ferguson has filed 27 lawsuits against the Trump administration and has so far won nine of them.
"My office has not yet lost a lawsuit to the Trump Administration, and we do not intend to lose this one," Ferguson said.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court backed Trump's travel ban targeting citizens of several Muslim-majority nations in a 5-4 vote.
Trump hailed the ruling as "a tremendous victory for the American people and our Constitution," even though it is expected to spark fresh protests and further divide the country.