Asylum Seekers File Class-Action Suit Demanding To Be Reunited With Their Children
For Immediate Release
June 25th, 2018
Matt Adams, Legal Director, NWIRP
Jorge L. Barón, Executive Director, NWIRP
Seattle, WA – Three women who were forcibly separated from their children by immigration officials when they entered the United States to seek asylum filed a lawsuit today in Seattle, Washington, on behalf of themselves and dozens of other separated families. The lawsuit seeks an order requiring immigration officials to immediately reunite the separated children with their parents and also challenges the government’s failure to move forward with their asylum claims. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed the suit in federal district court on behalf of the separated families.
The three women are part of a group of over two hundred asylum-seekers who were transferred from immigration detention centers in Texas to a prison in Washington State while waiting for immigration officials to begin processing their claims. Around fifty of the group originally arrived with children who were taken away from them by immigration officials without any explanation. They have not seen their children in over a month and some have not even been able to talk to their children by phone.
The three women have also yet to have a “credible fear interview,” the first stage of review for their asylum claims, despite the fact that each of them has already been detained by immigration officials for over a month.
The President issued an Executive Order on June 20, purporting to end his family separation policy, but this Executive Order does not address the families that have already been separated and instead directs immigration officials to detain any families that now enter the United States seeking asylum.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include:
Ibis Guzman, who fled Honduras with her five-year-old son after receiving death threats. She was separated from her child in Texas after asking to apply for asylum. Ms. Guzman’s son was sent to a facility in San Antonio, Texas, and she has not been able to see or talk to him for more than a month.
Blanca Orantes, who escaped El Salvador after threats to her eight-year-old son, only to have Border Patrol take her boy away from her when she approached them asking to apply for asylum. Ms. Orantes’s son was sent to a facility in Kingston, New York, and she has not seen him for over a month, and has only recently been provided a phone number to reach him.
Yolany Padilla, who left Honduras with her six-year-old son to seek protection in the United States. She was separated from him by immigration officials in Texas, despite informing them they were afraid to return to their home country. The immigration officials sent the boy to a facility in New York, and Ms. Padilla has not seen him since. She has only been able to talk to him once, about a month after their separation.
The suit was filed on behalf of these three women but they will be asking the court for permission to represent all parents separated from their children who are detained in Washington State.
“My son is all that I have,” said Blanca Orantes. “Every day I am not with him, I feel that I am dying inside. I need to be reunited with him immediately.”
“The executive order falsely claims that Congress is required to change the law to avoid tearing children apart from their parents, but it is indisputable that this abomination was created by the President,” said Matt Adams, legal director for NWIRP. “The Trump administration’s policy on family separation blatantly violates fundamental constitutional rights as well as the most basic principles of human dignity.”
The three plaintiffs are currently being detained either at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in SeaTac, Washington, or the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington.
To see a copy of the complaint filed in federal court, click here.