Yesterday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined twenty other state Attorneys General in signing a letter demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice, led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “end its new ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy which separates children from their parents.”
This action comes short of Attorney General Becerra’s more common course of action, which has been to sue the Trump administration over policies that California does not agree with. Under Attorney General Becerra, California has initiated or joined a lawsuit against the Trump administration nearly three dozen times, according to CALmatters. Seven of those lawsuits relate to immigration policy.
A facility called Casa San Diego, operated by Southwest Key Programs, in El Cajon, California houses children who were separated from their parents at the border. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that, “According to staff there, about 10 percent of the children held in Casa San Diego were separated from their parents at the border.”
So it is a little surprising that Becerra has only signed on to a strongly worded letter rather than sue, especially given the reporting by Ginger Johnson with ProPublica and by Franco Ordoñez and Anita Kumar with McClatchy. ProPublica has some of the first audio to come out of a government facility in Texas housing children who were separated from their parents at the border. McClatchy reported that “the Trump administration has likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children.”
It is possible that a lawsuit to change the policy won’t be necessary, per this tweet from Politico’s Christopher Cadelago.
Trump calls it somewhat “preemptive” and still expects legislation to follow. https://t.co/CbzeCaWXrG
— Christopher Cadelago (@ccadelago) June 20, 2018
Legislation would certainly be helpful on this front, especially given that what is in Trump’s executive order is yet to be seen. Dara Lind with Vox points out that “There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated.” Vicki Gonzalez with KCRA reports that Congress is working to reach a solution this week. One bill addressing the issue is Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D – California) Keep Families Together Act currently has the support of 49 U.S. Senators, including Feinstein’s fellow California Senator, Kamala Harris.