PORTLAND — Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joined a coalition of 17 state attorneys general in a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Trump administration’s policy of forced family separation at the U.S./Mexican border.
The U.S. Department of Justice had no comment on the lawsuit Tuesday night.
The complaint filed, in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington, asserts that the policy violates the constitutional due process and equal protection rights of migrant parents and children and families are separated without any determination that the parent poses a threat to the children. The practice is discriminatory because it targets only those crossing the southern border, the lawsuit claims.
“This cruel policy has already had a horrendous impact in Oregon, as set forth in our lawsuit. The thousands of children who have been ripped away from their parents at the border arrived in the U.S already traumatized by incidents in their home countries,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “That is why their parents have bravely brought them here to seek asylum— not to further traumatize them, as our government is doing. It’s essential we reunite these children with their families without further delay.”
Out of the 123 immigrant men detained at the federal prison in Sheridan, at least six are fathers from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras who have been separated from their children, according to the complaint.
One of the detainees has a newborn infant who was taken from him, another was separated from his 18-month-old toddler and a third doesn’t know the whereabouts of his 4-year-old child, according the Mexican Consulate.
The Oregon attorney general’s office also filed a brief with 17 states supporting litigation to stop the administration’s temporary protected status (TPS) terminations for foreign nationals from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s termination of TPS would strip recipients of legal authorization to work in this country and could result in their deportation to countries that are unsafe, according to the brief.
The administration’s zero-tolerance policy prompted the separation of parents and children crossing the border without authorization. Parents were prosecuted for violating U.S. law, while children were sent to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for placement with sponsors.
Trump issued an executive order June 20 to stop the separation, but questions still remain about when and how all of the families will be reunified.
At least, 2,054 children were still in HHS custody as of Saturday, according to an agency news release.