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Despite an end to family separation policy, attorneys say it’s unclear when families will be reunited

SEATAC, Wash. -- Despite President Trump’s executive order declaring an end to the family separation policy, Washington state says the fight is far from over.

The state's next move is something it has done 26 times before -- sue the Trump administration.

Currently, about 45 parents, mostly moms, are being detained in Washington state.

Thirty-five of the 45 were moved from the SeaTac Federal Detention Center to another facility in Tacoma.

Immigration attorneys say they do not know what is behind the move and that there are more questions than answers.

Also, nine children separated from their parents at the border are in custody in undisclosed locations in Washington. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says although Trump's executive order reversed his former family separation policy, it doesn't address the families already separated.

“It does not apply to the kids like those here in Washington state who have already been separated from their parents,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson says in the coming days Washington will lead nearly a dozen other states in suing the Trump administration.

“This will be our 27th lawsuit against the Trump administration,” Ferguson said.

The state says families should be reunited, but not in detention centers as the executive order indicates.

“They could release families together and use monitoring devices, use bail, use other mechanisms,” attorney Noah Purcell said.

State leaders say the current treatment of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States is unconstitutional.

“Only targets people entering our southern border, not any other entrance to the United States,” Ferguson said.

Trump's "cruelty is outmatched by our compassion; we are going to make sure his chaos is overcome by the U.S. constitution,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

But the promise of a fight doesn’t mean it comes with any timeline of when parents will physically get to hold their children again.

“That’s the question our clients are asking us, but the honest answer is I don’t know at this point,” said Jorge Baron, who is with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The organization says nine children taken from their parents at the border are now in Washington state but that none of them belong to the parents being detained at the federal detention centers in SeaTac or Tacoma.

“It’s just kind of random, frankly -- wherever they have space,” Baron said.

Baron added that the children belonging to the detainees here in Washington are scattered all over the country.

“Most of them have been able to make one phone call to the child,” Baron said.

Baron says the humanitarian crisis is not over.

Ferguson even got emotional on Thursday as he spoke not just as an attorney general but also as a father.

“Where is my child, is my child safe? I suspect most parents have had that experience at least once. I cannot imagine having had that experience, what it will be like for a parent to have that feeling day-after-day, week-after-week, that’s truly unimaginable,” Ferguson said.

Attorneys say most of the 45 moms and dads here crossed the border with their children illegally, but that most were seeking asylum from violence in their home countries.