OLYMPIA, Wash. - After mounting pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, President Donald Trump reversed policy and signed an executive order Wednesday that stops separating families at the southern border.
But 206 detainees – most of them women who are mothers - who sought asylum in the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border are still being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac.
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Gov. Jay Inslee also said his office has learned there are nine kids separated from their families being held in Washington State.
“The president’s actions do not change this. We have more than 2,300 children separated from their parents today – the damage has been done,” Inslee said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Inslee announced $1.2 million in new funding to help provide legal services to immigrants and refugees. One million was approved by state legislators last session to go towards immigration services. Inslee signed an executive order to free up another $230,000 in emergency funding for the cause.
He also had more biting words for the president.
“The suffering and tears of those of those kids are on his head, and it is unacceptable,” Inslee said.
“This was intentional abusive behavior to punish innocent children. It is a form of child abuse,” he said.
Trump’s executive order keeps a “zero tolerance” immigration policy, but ends family separation – something put in place last month.
“We're gonna have strong, very strong borders, but gonna have to keep the families together. I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said at the signing.
But it’s unclear what will happen to the families already separated.
“We are aware there are at least nine children in our state who’ve been subjected to this policy,” Inslee said. “The federal government won’t answer our questions. They will not tell us where their parents are,” he said.
The $1.2 million of new funding that will go towards the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which provides legal services to people going through immigration court people who do not have a right to an appointed attorney.
“Even though the decisions these courts make are life or death decisions, folks have to represent themselves if they don’t have the resources to hire a private attorney,” Jorge said.
“The first step is to get into a courthouse and protect them. Because obviously morality, common sense, fairness or judgement cannot protect these children against Donald Trump. They have to have access to the courthouse,” Inslee said.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said it will use the money to expand its legal team and work to reunite as many families as possible.
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