Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jul 10 2019

Coalition of attorneys general file brief supporting restraining order against the Trump Administration

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today joined 19 other attorneys general in support of a lawsuit seeking to force the Trump Administration to provide safe, sanitary conditions for immigrant children it has detained.

In their amicus — or friend of the court — brief, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the attorneys general assert that the Administration’s treatment is in violation of a long-standing court-approved settlement that requires the federal government to meet minimum standards when detaining immigrant children, including safe and sanitary conditions and prompt release or placement.

Under the Trump Administration, the attorneys general argue, immigrant children have been held for weeks in inhumane conditions without access to basic necessities like clean water, toothbrushes, showers, soap or a place to sleep.

“This Administration’s blatant disregard for judicial orders and the basic human rights of immigrant children simply cannot continue,” Ferguson said. “The Trump Administration’s cruelty undermines our American values.”

The 1997 Flores agreement, reached after a class-action lawsuit was filed against the U.S. government on behalf of detained immigrant children, set up rules governing the treatment of detained children, including basic sanitation, drinking water and food, medical care and adequate supervision. It also set limits on how long children can be detained.

In their brief, the attorneys general cite multiple media reports detailing the “deplorable and inhumane conditions in which the federal government is currently holding vulnerable immigrant children.” They argue that the Administration’s “continued failure to hold children in facilities that are safe and sanitary” violates the Flores agreement and warrants immediate intervention by the court.

This is not the first time that Ferguson has opposed the Trump Administration’s inhumane treatment and detention of immigrant families. In June of 2018, Ferguson filed a lawsuit challenging the Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which forced the separation of immigrant families at the border. Ferguson’s case is pending before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Later that year, Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee voiced their opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed rule to relax legal protections for immigrant children established by the Flores agreement.

California and Massachusetts are lead authors on today’s brief, which is also joined by Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Lawsuits against the Trump Administration

Ferguson has filed 41 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson has 22 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Twelve of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other 10, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers and 3D-printed guns. No court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov