A coalition of 18 attorneys general, including Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday over the Trump administration’s separation of undocumented children and parents at the border.
The lawsuit argues that the practice of family separations is “irrationally discriminatory” and violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection “because it targets only people crossing our southwestern border, the majority of whom are from Latin America, and not anyone crossing the northern border or entering the United States elsewhere,” according to a news release from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office.
“Deliberately separating children from their parents is wrong and goes against the hope and safety that America has represented for centuries,” said Herring. “Right now, there are traumatized, unaccompanied children who have been transported to Virginia, without any idea of when they will see their parents again. We cannot stand by while the Trump Administration continues to tear families apart, putting politics before moral and legal obligations and responsibilities.”
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, is brought by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state. All of them are Democrats.
Democrats have harshly criticized the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which has resulted in the separation of migrant families. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that he said would help stop the separation of undocumented families at the border after an intense backlash over the practice.
“What he (the President) is doing with families on the border, separating children, violates the Constitution,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier on Tuesday. “Our position is it violates the Constitution, violates due process, violates equal protection and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The lawsuit contends the Trump administration “violated the constitutional due process rights of the parents and children by separating them as a matter of course and without any finding that the parent poses a threat to the children,” according to the release from the New York Attorney General’s Office.
“The Court should order Defendants to reunite every family separated by these unlawful acts immediately,” the lawsuit says.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.