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Gov. Jay Inslee announces emergency state funding for nonprofit providing immigration legal services

UPDATED: Wed., June 20, 2018

FILE - Gov. Jay Inslee states his position opposed to the federal government policy of separating asylum seekers from their children outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Wash., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (Alan Berner / AP)
FILE - Gov. Jay Inslee states his position opposed to the federal government policy of separating asylum seekers from their children outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Wash., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (Alan Berner / AP)
By Jim Camden and Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

The state will add $233,000 in emergency funds to a nonprofit providing legal services to immigrant families adding to the $1 million the Legislature set aside earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday.

Inslee used a news conference announcing the money as a platform to excoriate President Donald Trump, who shortly before the Olympia event had signed an executive order ending separation of families being held for potential immigration violations.

“The president’s actions today do not change things,” Inslee said. “He lied about what it would take to fix it. As of yesterday, he said it could only be fixed by Congress.”

Washington has at least nine children among the 650 undocumented immigrants being detained, Inslee said. All of the people need legal representation for their immigration proceedings.

Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson have written U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen demanding answers about the so-called no-tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants, but have not received a response, the governor said.

The additional money adds to state funding for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project awarded under a competitive grant through the Department of Commerce earlier this year, Inslee’s office said. The organization formed in Seattle in 1984 in response to asylum-seekers filling up churches in Western Washington, and provides “direct legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education” on immigration issues, according to the group’s website. Its closest office to Spokane is in Wenatchee.

Inslee has been critical of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on detainees at the southern border, and on Wednesday accused the president of using children as “hostages” in a fight over immigration.

“He’s weaponized the system,” Inslee said.

Most information about the nine children in Washington who have been separated from their parents is being withheld to protect their privacy, he said.

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