Attorney General Becerra Co-leads Lawsuit Against Trump Administration's Child Separation Policy

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that he is co-leading a coalition of 18 attorneys general, along with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, in filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the cruel and unlawful policy of forcibly separating children from their parents without any legitimate justification. The complaint alleges that the Trump Administration’s family separation policy violates the fundamental due process rights of parents to be together with their children, equal protection rights afforded to parents and their children, as well as other constitutional and statutory claims.

“Child internment camps in America...the Trump Administration has hit a new low. President Trump’s indifference towards the human rights of the children and parents who have been ripped away from one another is chilling,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Today we are taking the Trump Administration to court because the safety, security and well-being of our children is too important to be threatened by a heartless political maneuver. Not only does the Trump Administration’s policy impact the health and safety of these separated families, it also threatens California’s ability to ensure our residents’ rights and health are protected.”

“I strongly support our Attorney General’s efforts to protect children and keep families together. It’s the right thing to do,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The complaint alleges that the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy is in violation of parents’ and children’s constitutional rights, is detrimental to the health and safety of California residents, and violates the state’s sovereignty provided by the U.S. Constitution. The policy has caused measurable harm to immigrant communities throughout the nation.

In the complaint, the Attorneys General argue the following main points about the separation policy:

  • More than 2,000 children have already been separated from their parents;
  • The policy is causing severe, intentional, and lasting trauma to the children and parents who are separated;
  • The policy is a public spectacle designed to deter those seeking refuge from coming to the United States, including lawful asylum-seekers attempting to present themselves at a port of entry;
  • The policy is creating more unaccompanied migrant children and inflicting additional trauma on them that will require the states to use resources to address, in effect creating an unnecessary financial burden for States;
  • The policy undermines States’ sovereign interests in enforcing their laws that require preserving the parent-child relationship unless contrary to the best interests of the child;
  • No law or court decision requires separating immigrant children from their parents;
  • Children and parents are being separated from each other and relocated to states across the country from each other while they pursue their asylum claims or otherwise seek lawful immigration status; and
  • President Trump’s Executive Order says nothing about reuniting families, has no impact on the thousands of families who have already been traumatized, and is so vague and equivocal that it is unclear when or if any changes will actually be made.

In this complaint California, Washington and Massachusetts are joined by the following states: Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the complaint is attached to the electronic version of this release here.

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