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Inslee, Ferguson call separation policy cruel, accuse Trump of lying about it

Maru Mora leads protesters on a march outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, last week to oppose the policy of separating children from their parents seeking asylum. (Alan Berner / AP)
Maru Mora leads protesters on a march outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, last week to oppose the policy of separating children from their parents seeking asylum. (Alan Berner / AP)

Top state officials in Washington blasted the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when seeking asylum at the U.S. border and demanded information about women and men being held in federal facilities in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, said Monday the policy was inflicting “intentional, gratuitous and permanent trauma” on children who have done nothing wrong and on parents who may have valid claims for asylum.

Senators from Washington and Idaho also are calling for an end to the separations, adding to a growing chorus of criticism for a policy which the administration has described as “zero tolerance” for people breaking immigration laws.

In a letter to President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Inslee and Ferguson said they have not received a response to a previous letter to federal officials in Washington, D.C., and are seeking answers to “basic questions” from higher up.

Among the questions: Where are the children of the parents held at a facility at SeaTac, Washington, and who is caring for them? Why are the parents being held in prison while asylum claims are being reviewed? When will the parents be released, and when will they be reunited with their children?

“Many parents have no idea where their children are,” the letter said. “This is cruel and unconscionable.”

The letter also asks the administration to “stop lying about the family separation policy” by saying it’s required. Trump has repeatedly said Democrats are responsible for the separations, although past administrations did not separate all families seeking asylum and the zero-tolerance policy was instituted just this year.

“Presumably, the president is lying about the origins of this policy because even he recognizes that it is morally indefensible,” they wrote. “The least you can do is be honest with the American people about who chose to implement this policy.”

In the nation’s capital, Republican Mike Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, called for a change in the policy through a legislative solution.

“Children should not be separated from their families and the issue needs to be resolved quickly,” Crapo said Monday.

In an email, Crapo added that he supports measures to secure the border and provide safety for those seeking asylum or to otherwise legally enter the United States. His staff said he’s looking at several bills being proposed.

Washington Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell last week signed on to a bill with 35 other Democrats and two independents that would keep immigrant families together, a response to the administration’s current practice being enforced by the Department of Homeland Security.

Murray called the policy an “absolute nightmare,” ill-advised and immoral.

“The idea that this administration is using this ‘deterrent strategy’ is horrifying and unacceptable,” she said in a press release.

Cantwell said she was concerned about detainees in a facility at SeaTac and called the separations inhumane and contrary to American values. “Congress must take immediate action to end this cruel and senseless policy,” she said.

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