Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Lawsuit filed in the Western District of Washington

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed his multistate lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s policy of forced family separation on the U.S. southern border. A total of 16 states and the District of Columbia joined Ferguson’s suit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The states joining Ferguson’s lawsuit include: Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

“This case, like all our cases against this Administration, says something important about who we are as a people,” Ferguson said. “We will stand up for the Constitution, basic decency and fundamental American values. My office has not yet lost a lawsuit to the Trump Administration, and we do not intend to lose this one.”

Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee announced the lawsuit at a press conference last week, outside the federal prison in SeaTac, Washington where the federal government was detaining dozens of women after forcibly separating their children from them.

Among other claims, the states’ lawsuit alleges the Administration violated the constitutional due process rights of the parents and children by separating without any finding that the parents pose a threat to the children. The states also argue that the Administration has been violating federal asylum laws by turning away families that show up at ports of entry seeking asylum.

Last Wednesday, President Trump issued an order purporting to end his family separation policy. Following a close review of the order, the Attorney General’s Office found two significant problems. First, the order does nothing to reunify families already torn apart by the Trump Administration’s policy. Second, the order is riddled with so many caveats as to be meaningless. For example, the order requires appropriations, although the total amount is unknown, as is the timeline for when or if such an appropriation would happen. It also relies on a federal judge approving a plan to indefinitely detain children, a scenario Ferguson described at the press conference as unlikely.

Ferguson has now filed 27 lawsuits against the Trump Administration. Ferguson has nine legal victories thus far and has not lost a case against the Administration.


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