Three asylum seekers file class action lawsuit to reunite with children

Three asylum seekers filed a class action lawsuit in federal court to be reunited with their children, whom they have not seen in a month. (Screenshot of document from the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project.)

Three asylum seekers who are being held at a federal prison in SeaTac have filed a lawsuit against immigration authorities to be reunited with their children, the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project announced Monday.

The lawsuit also challenges the federal government to move forward with the three applicants’ asylum claims.

The Northwest Immigrants Rights Project said the women’s sons who are all under 8 years old, are being kept in Texas and New York and they have not seen their children for more than a month and have had limited access to speak to them on the phone. One woman has not been able to see or talk to her 5-year-old son, according to the suit.

The families, who are from Honduras and El Salvador, will ask the court for permission to represent all parents in Washington state who are separated from their children.

The Northwest Immigrants Rights Project posted a copy of the lawsuit online.

More than 2,300 children nationwide have been separated from their families, after federal authorities this year implemented a policy to arrest and detain all adults without documentation trying to enter through a U.S. border, including asylum seekers.

This “zero-tolerance” policy has resulted in thousands of children, who cannot be put in federal prisons, being separated from their parents. The children are housed in foster homes or in holding facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While President Donald Trump said such policies were in place before his administration, previous administrations did not as a practice separate families — though many minors who came to the U.S. seeking asylum without their parents were housed in holding facilities while awaiting asylum proceedings.

Trump signed an executive order to stop the separation of families, but the order did not say how families seeking asylum would be housed while awaiting immigration proceedings. A plan released over the weekend detailed that families would be reunited after the parents’ deportation proceedings were concluded and that the government would work on building better database systems to keep track of children separated from their parents.

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