Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson joined 16 other Democratic state attorneys general Tuesday in suing President Donald Trump’s administration to force the federal government to quickly reunify migrant families.
Immigration officials separated about 2,300 children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. The president signed an executive order last week ending the practice, but the attorneys general argued the order is insufficient.
“There has been so much confusion and chaos surrounding the child separation policy and the reunification of families. Intervention by a federal court can help bring order to the process, protect the interests of the children, and reunify families,” Swanson, a Democrat who is running for governor, said in a statement.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges the administration has violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. The 17 attorneys general are seeking a court order to force the federal government to provide parents information about their children’s whereabouts and reunify families.
Other Minnesotans added their voices Tuesday on behalf of separated families. Religious leaders and DFL legislators held a news conference to urge Congress to work across the political aisle to reunite migrant families and pass comprehensive changes in immigration law.
“We are dealing with human beings here, and what we’re doing to them is immoral,” said Rabbi Sim Glaser, with the Minnesota Rabbinical Association.
U.S. House Republicans planned to meet Tuesday to look at options for passing an immigration overhaul, though the president’s support for such legislation has wavered.
“Children and families are still in peril,” state Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, said at the news conference with religious leaders.
There is too much rhetoric coming from people on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, Franzen said. She said the question is whether Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, can pass a bipartisan bill that addresses broader immigration issues, including separation of families, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Trump’s ban blocking travelers from mostly Muslim countries. The Supreme Court upheld the travel ban Tuesday.
People who cross the country’s southern border should have a right to fair legal process without detention, said John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.
More than two dozen social-justice organizations and immigrant-rights groups are taking a more local approach to push for changes to the immigration system. The groups want Hennepin and Ramsey counties to stop enforcement work by federal immigration officials. They announced their campaign, called the Decriminalizing Communities Coalition, during a news conference Tuesday outside the Hennepin County Government Center.
Coalition leaders’ demands include ending the practice of notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of an inmate’s release date; doubling funding for Hennepin County’s recently approved legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation; and establishing rules limiting ICE enforcement at county courthouses.