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3 asylum-seeking mothers in Washington sue feds over family separation

Jorge Baron with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project speaks at a press conference June 22, 2018 announcing that his organization will file a lawsuit on behalf of immigrant families separated from children. (KIRO 7)

Three mothers held in federal detention centers in Washington state have filed a lawsuit demanding that they be reunited with their children and alleging that the government has prolonged their asylum process.

RELATED: Policy that separates families has history in Washington state

“My son is all that I have,” said Blanca Orantes, one of the mothers filing the lawsuit. “Every day I am not with him, I feel that I am dying inside. I need to be reunited with him immediately.”

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed the class action lawsuit in Seattle Monday for the three mothers being held in either the SeaTac or Tacoma detention centers. The mothers are seeking class action status. They are suing on behalf of themselves and “dozens” of other parents forcible separated from their children, according to NWIRP. The lawsuit aims to force the federal government to bring families back together after separating them at the southern border. The nearly 50 parents held in Washington say they have not spoken with their children for more than a month, since they were torn apart in Texas.

The parents are among more than 200 asylum seekers caught up in the Trump administration’s recent family separation policy. The mothers filing the lawsuit claim that they have not yet had a credible fear interview after being held for more than a month, a standard first-step for those seeking asylum. Instead they remain held in detention. The lawsuit alleges the federal government has prolonged this process which would lead them to an immigration judge for their asylum claims.

NWIRP points out that despite the Trump administration ending the family separation policy, there are still parents caught up in the system who remain separated from their children.

“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 lawsuit comes on the heels of legal action from the State of Washington against the Trump administration and its family separation policy.

3 asylum-seeking mothers

According to the NWIRP, the mothers come from Honduras and El Salvador, and include:

  • Ibis Guzman from Honduras. She came to the US with her five-year-old son after receiving death threats in her home country. She asked for asylum in Texas before her son was taken away. Her son was sent to a San Antonio  facility. She has had not contact with him.
  • Yolany Padilla from Honduras. She was separated from her six-year-old son at the Texas border. She is seeking asylum and is afraid to return to Honduras. She has spoken with her son once since he was sent to a facility in New York. They have been separated more than a month.
  • Blanca Orantes from El Salvador. She claims her eight-year-old son received threats in her country. Her boy was taken away when they asked for asylum at the border. He was sent to a facility in Kingston, New York. Orantes was recently given a phone number to call her son. She has had not contact with him for more than a month.

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