WASHINGTON - Seventeen US states led by Democratic attorney generals are suing the Trump administration in an effort to force officials to reunite migrant families separated at the border.
In the latest setback for Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, the states, which include New York, California and Washington, filed lawsuits on Tuesday accusing the government of denying migrants their rights.
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“The administration’s practice of separating families is cruel, plain and simple,” New Jersey attorney general Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “Every day, it seems like the administration is issuing new, contradictory policies and relying on new, contradictory justifications. But we can’t forget: The lives of real people hang in the balance.”
More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border in recent weeks and placed in government-contracted shelters hundreds of miles away. Following uproar on both sides of the aisle, and internationally, Trump last week signed an executive order to end the controversial practice.
The administration was obliged to walk its policy back further when, on Monday, the nation’s top border security official said his agency would temporarily stop referring migrant parents who cross the border with their children for criminal prosecution.
But hundreds of detained parents are still awaiting news of their children’s whereabouts. Experts told the Guardian of their concerns that the promised reunions won’t happen any time soon – if at all, amid ongoing bureaucratic chaos from the federal government.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Illinois Democratic attorney general Lisa Madigan said Trump’s executive order does not bring back together the thousands of families that were torn apart by the two-month old “zero tolerance” policy, and it does not prevent families from being separated in the future.