The group argues that the policy, which resulted in more than 2,300 children being separated from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border, was “cruel and unlawful.” A lawsuit has yet to be filed but would accuse the administration of violating the fundamental due process rights of parents to be with their children, according to a press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
“We are filing this lawsuit because ripping children from their parents is unlawful, wrong and heartless,” Becerra said in the release. “President Trump yesterday signed an empty and meaningless order that claims to take back policies that he put in place himself as a political stunt. Meanwhile these children, their parents, and people around the world need answers regarding what comes next. This policy could have devastating consequences on children’s health and wellbeing.”
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson will lead the lawsuit, which also includes California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania. A larger coalition of attorneys general signed a letter to the Department of Justice on Wednesday opposing the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.
Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end family separation by detaining children with their parents, but the act conflicts with a prior settlement that required the government to release child migrants from detention after 20 days. The Department of Justice seeks to overturn the settlement in court so the administration can detain families who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border indefinitely in detention centers.
It is unclear what will happen if the settlement isn’t overturned. Ferguson’s office said Trump’s executive order is “riddled with so many caveats as to be meaningless.”
“This is a rogue, cruel, and unconstitutional policy,” Ferguson said in a release. “We’re going to put a stop to it.”