The Attorneys General of 17 states and the District of Columbia, all Democrats, filed a 128-page complaint in federal court in Seattle Tuesday, asking the court to enshrine in law practices that turn children into shields for illegal aliens and frustrate immigration enforcement.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is being billed by outlets like the Associated Press (AP) as an effort by states to “reunite migrant families.” In reality, the suit has little to do with the small number of alleged illegal aliens whose children are still being housed separately from them as they await criminal trial for crossing U.S. borders without authorization.
Its main focus is on forcing the administration to give up its policy of enforcing American immigration laws and adopt a bevy of open-borders policies aimed at allowing, effectively, unlimited numbers of people to enter the country without recourse.
In addition to calling for blanket orders for the administration to “reunite” children and parents, the Democrat AGs are asking for an injunction forcing the federal government to:
1. “Enjoin Defendants from refusing to accept applications for asylum at a valid port of entry, and from criminally charging asylum applicants with illegal entry or re-entry if they present themselves at a valid port of entry[.]”
This would, if adopted, mean the administration will face further legal penalties if the already overloaded immigration infrastructure is not able to immediately take all comers who make a “credible” claim of “fear of persecution.” As the Democrats’ complaint itself argues, the fact that border crossings are at capacity is no excuse. “Border officials are unlawfully turning away these families on the pretext that the United States is “full” or no longer accepting asylum seekers,” they write. “This unlawful practice exacerbates the trauma already suffered by refugee families while simultaneously artificially increasing illegal entry violations.”
The asylum system is supposed to be an extraordinary remedy for the benefit of people who are genuinely persecuted and in danger in their home countries. Traditionally, this was understood to mean people persecuted, almost always by an authoritarian government, for their religion or political beliefs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working to contain the rapid expansion of this definition to include victims of everyday crime in countries that are not as safe as America.
But the “credible fear” claim process is stretching the asylum system into a standard way to gain entry at the southern border. It allows otherwise illegal aliens to enter the country with work authorization, only to join the immigration courts’ years-long backlog before their claim is ever seriously examined.
As word of the efficacy of this tactic in avoiding deportation spread, so did its use. In the last six years, asylum claims have tripled. Central American asylum claims increased more than 800% over the same period. Illegal aliens have quickly learned — often with the help of immigration lawyers — the magic words that trigger a finding of “credible fear” by a DHS official at the border who has no ability to investigate claims of persecution.
If the federal court in Seattle grants this injunction, DHS will be under even more pressure, under threat of legal action, to quickly accept migrants’ tales of persecution and usher them into the United States. And nothing about this request has anything to do with children, let alone family reunification.
2. “Declare Defendants’ family separation Policy unauthorized by or contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States” and “Enjoin Defendants from enforcing the family separation Policy, including at all United States borders and ports of entry, pending further orders from this Court[.]”
If the court accepts this injunction request, it means that, in effect, all illegal aliens caught breaching the southern border and charged must be allowed into the United States if they have their children with them. Any other course of action will be presumptively illegal.
The government at the moment faces a trilemma when dealing with “family units” apprehended and charged at the border. They can (1) just release them, (2) detain the parents and separate the children, leading to the outcry this lawsuit is exploiting, or (3) house the families together, which is the administration’s stated preference but is illegal for longer than 20 days under the current interpretation of 1997’s “Flores Settlement. ” If another federal court in California refuses the Justice Department’s request to revise the Flores Settlement, that leaves only options one and two.
What the Democrat attorneys general are asking the court to do is make option two illegal as well, leaving no choice but to allow alleged illegal aliens into the country, where they may or may not show up for an immigration hearing that could be years down the road. Children become an irrevocable “golden ticket” to entry into the United States, a message already heard loud and clear by would-be illegal aliens. Before 2013, aliens bringing their kids across the desert with them were so rare the Border Patrol did not keep statistics on “family units.” Since then, their proportion has increased five times. Last month, they were nearly a quarter of presumed illegals apprehended at the border.
3. “Enjoin Defendants from conditioning family reunification on an agreement not to petition for asylum or other relief available under the INA, or on an agreement to withdraw a petition or other request for that relief” and “Enjoin Defendants from removing separated parents from the United States without their children, unless the parent affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily waives the right to reunification before removal after consultation with an attorney[.]”
That is to say, if the court accepts this request, anyone whose children are, for any reason, not removable themselves, becomes immune from deportation. Not only that, but it takes away perhaps the most typical method in which illegal alien families are deported after parents are convicted, with an expedited removal hearing for the parents followed by them agreeing to take their children and go home.
The complaint itself consists in large part of dozens of pages cataloging statements by President Donald Trump and his administration and news articles about the plight of sympathetic illegal aliens. No fewer than three stories about crying children are listed to convince the court to adopt the changes requested above.
But the complaint goes further than merely harping on the family separation scenes left-leaning media outlets frequently portrayed in a wildly false light. It continually tries to use the fact the administration is trying to deter illegal immigration against it. Several times it seeks to use the administration’s plan to use military resources to house apprehended aliens — part of their efforts to keep families together — as proof the Democratic AGs’ open-borders policy must be made law by the courts, giving further lie to the notion, parroted in report after report in the left-leaning press, that this suit is merely about families being separated.
Attorney General Sessions, who is a defendant in the suit, reacted to these bait and switch tactics in a speech he gave in Los Angeles just minutes after the State AGs filed their suit.
“On Wednesday, President Trump ordered this administration to ensure that when we apprehend illegal aliens at the border and hold them for criminal prosecution and to adjudicate their immigration claims, we do what we can to keep families together,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks. “How did the open borders crowd respond? No. Now they don’t want them held or deported at all. Does that surprise you?”
“When they win, they make demands. And when they lose, they make demands. I think there’s a lesson in that. … As long as there is any immigration enforcement, they will oppose any effective limits,” Sessions continued.
The case is Washington, et al. v. U.S., 18-cv-00939 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.