OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced additional emergency funding to support civil legal aid services for immigrant families.
The decision comes amid the uproar over the U.S. Department of Justice's new "zero tolerance" immigration crackdown, in which children have been taken from their parents. In addition to a $1 million grant that was approved by the Legislature earlier this year, Inslee has authorized $230,000 in emergency funding to bolster the Northwest Immigrant Rights Group. He is holding a news conference later in the day to discuss the decision.
"The horrific separation of children from their parents at our southern border is just the latest in an ongoing effort by the president's administration to terrorize immigrant families and those seeking asylum or refuge," Inslee said in a news release. "Everyone is entitled to a fair and due process, and this funding will help make sure Washington is doing everything it can to protect that system of justice for all."
Earlier this week, Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen decrying the federal government's policy, writing it "is inflicting intentional, gratuitous, and permanent trauma on young children who have done nothing wrong and on parents who often have valid claims for refugee or asylum status." In the letter, Inslee and Ferguson also sought answers to several questions, including where the children of a group of women being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac are and whether the parents have been given information about their legal rights, or access to attorneys. More than 200 border detainees are being held at the facility.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would sign an executive order to end family separation at the border, reversing his insistence this week that only Congress could take action.
More than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.