Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s policy of forced family separation on the U.S. southern border. The multistate lawsuit was filed by a coalition of 18 Attorneys General in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
“The federal government’s horrendous treatment of immigrant families arriving at our border is unconstitutional and in direct opposition to everything this state and this nation stand for,” Cuomo said. “In New York, we will challenge this policy every step of the way. It’s time for this country to look in the mirror and remember who we are and what we are about. We must protect immigrant children and defend our principles, our rights, and our basic humanity.”
The multistate lawsuit argues that:
- The Trump Administration has 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.
- The policy only targets people crossing the U.S. southern border, the majority of whom are from Latin America, and not anyone crossing the northern border or entering the United States elsewhere, which is discriminatory and violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.
- The policy is arbitrary and unpredictable, and the Administration has been violating U.S. asylum laws by turning people away at ports of entry without allowing them to request asylum, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The lawsuit is seeking the following relief:
- Ordering that children be reunified with parents.
- Declaring the family separation policy unconstitutional/unlawful and asking the court to enjoin family separation at borders and points of entry.
- Seeking court order for the federal government to share critical information about child location and treatment with parents.
- Enjoining government from refusing to accept asylum applications at ports of entry.
Despite President Donald Trump’s previous claims that an executive order could not reverse his family separation policy, the President issued an executive order this week that does nothing to reunify families and requires appropriations, although the total amount is unknown, as is the timeline for when or if such an appropriation would happen. It also relies on a federal judge approving a plan to indefinitely detain children.