Report: Undocumented mothers, separated from kids, being held in SeaTac

SEATAC, Wash. — An official with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said Thursday it was reported to him at least 60 undocumented women were separated from their children and brought to a detention center in SeaTac.

Two women said they were brought to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac over the weekend from the southern border in Texas, Jorge Barón with the Northwest Immigration Rights Project said.

The women, who said they were separated from their young daughters, told Northwest Immigration Rights Project staff they estimated at least 60 additional women had been separated from their children and were also being held there.

Danielle Bennett, an ICE spokesperson, confirmed Thursday the transfer of 209 detainees to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

Workers from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project are going to the detention center Thursday to meet with more women and investigate. Barón said they are also talking to people in Texas who were trying to help the women, to get the names of the women in order to work to confirm whether they are now in SeaTac.

From the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project's release online: "Initial reports demonstrate the group consists of many women who originally arrived with their children seeking asylum, but were then separated from their children by Border Patrol officials and prosecuted for unlawful entry, a federal misdemeanor. Despite completing their sentences, the mothers remain in federal detention while applying for asylum and separated from their children who are being held at separate government facilities."

“The tragedy that is the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents is now taking place in our state,” Barón said in the release.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal responded Thursday night to the transfer of detainees to Washington state, writing, “Federal detention is no place for anyone seeking asylum. This is a stunning new low and it illustrates how out-of-control and cruel this administration is – how little it cares for human rights."

“This is unethical, ineffective and inhumane," Jayapal said in the release. "We have obligations under international and domestic law to treat asylum seekers fairly and with dignity. That means providing them access to the asylum process, not criminally prosecuting them and tearing them away from their children."

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also responded to the report, writing, "Both as a mayor & a mother, I find the practice of indefinitely separating kids from their parents both inhumane and un-American. Tearing families apart traumatizes children who have already endured grueling trials in their escape from violence & terror."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson shared a letter Thursday night that asks for more immediate information on the reported asylum seekers moved to SeaTac.

Read Inslee's entire letter here.

A demonstration protesting the reported detention of mothers separated from their children is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the federal detention center in SeaTac.

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