Asylum Crisis at the Southern Border

7/11 Update:

Flores Settlement Agreement

On July 9, a federal judge in Los Angeles, Judge Gee, who oversees the Flores Settlement Agreement, denied the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the Flores requirements that govern the length of time children can be detained and the conditions of their detention.  Following Trump’s June 20 Executive Order on family separation, the Trump administration asked that the judge modify the Flores agreement to allow the government to detain children indefinitely and place them in shelters without state licensing.  Judge Gee rejected that request in a strongly worded order.


Judge Gee commented that the government’s effort to change the Flores agreement is a “cynical attempt” to force the courts to solve the immigration issues that are a result of “ill-considered Executive action” and “over 20 years of Congressional inaction.”  She also noted that the children who currently are protected by the Agreement and are now in government custody, are “blameless” and their “best interests should be paramount.”


The cities of LA, SF, NY and Chicago filed an amicus brief in support of maintaining the requirements of the Flores agreement.  In their brief the cities defended the importance of the state licensing requirements as a “critical check on the adequacy and competency of organizations” operating the children detention facilities.  The cities noted that the only possible reason for the government’s desire to end state licensing is to dodge “oversight and accountability” regarding the treatment of children.  


As a result of this order, DHS continues to be required to process and release children within 20 days.


The Trump administration has not yet indicated if it will appeal Judge Gee’s order.


San Diego Judge’s order to reunite families

The judge in the San Diego family separation case, Li v. U.S., ordered the government to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents by July 10.  The government reports state there are about 102 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents under the Trump family separation policy.  


On July 6, the government informed the court that it will only be able to reunite half of those children by the July 10 deadline.  ICE admitted that children under 5 are detained in 23 facilities across 13 states. The judge refused to grant a blanket extension of the deadline.  


On July 10, the government submitted a report indicating that it was still in the process of reunifying children – but did not provide independent verification of the number of children reunified nor whether there are additional children who should be on the government list.


Under the judge’s previous order, the government must also reunite children over the age of 5 by July 26. 


State AG lawsuit challenging family separation and detention:

On June 26 the State of Washington and 17 State Attorneys General filed a lawsuit, State of Washington, et al. v. USA, challenging Trump’s family separation and detention policies.  Although the judge in the San Diego case, Li v. U.S., ordered the Trump administration to reunite immigrant children forcibly removed from their parents, the judge’s ruling did not address other important issues related to family separation and detention.


On July 2, the Attorneys General asked the court to allow expedited discovery in order to obtain and preserve evidence regarding the family separation policies. The AG’s pointed to the government’s control over primary witnesses, its constant change of positions, and the “deep and enduring harm” of the separation and detention practices.  The government has not responded to the request to expedite discovery. 

On Wednesday, June 20th, President Trump signed an Executive Order pertaining to family separation. The order mandates that immigrant families be held in family detention. Instead of terminating the administration’s cruel “zero tolerance” policies targeting vulnerable families, this order undermines real solutions to family separation while continuing to violate the rights of refugees seeking legal asylum. In addition, family separation will persist, as any assigned jail time must be served in Department of Justice (DOJ) custody away from their children.
Trump's executive order does end family separations, but replace them with the indefinite detention of children with their parents in detention centers. "Indefinite" means indefinite in the immigration enforcement system: there was a case of an asylum-seeker from Ghana who spent 10 years in detention. Family detention is not a solution to family separation.

Take action today to decry family detention, and changes to asylum law.

How to Stop DHS from Separating Families at the US Border


 DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

 Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20536

 HHS Secretary Alex Azar
Office of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

 Acting Assistant ACF Secretary Steven Wagner
Administration for Children and Families
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

 ORR Director Scott Lloyd
Office of Refugee Resettlement, Mary E. Switzer Building
330 C ST SW
Washington DC 20201

 Annette L. Hayes, Acting U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington
700 Stewart St. Suite 5220
Seattle, WA 98101

 Dan Sproul, Warden, Federal Detention Center - SeaTac
2425 South 200th St.
Seattle, WA 98198

 The Department of Justice comment recording line: 202-353-1555.


 Rick Larsen
119 N Commercial St # 1350, Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 733-4500

 Patty Murray
915 2nd Ave # 2988, Seattle, WA 98174
Phone:(206) 553-5545

 Maria Cantwell
915 2nd Ave #3206, Seattle, WA 98174
Phone:(206) 220-6400


Witnessing at ICE Downtown
Daily, 8:00am – 10:00am (until July 6th at least)
1000 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104, USAWitnessing at ICE Downtown

End Family Separation: Women Take Action
Thursday, June 28, 8am, Washington DC

Lawyer Moms of America - Deliver Letter to Federal Offices
Friday, June 29, 12pm
Location: senator/representatives offices

Families Belong Together Nationwide Marches
Saturday, June 30, 10am
Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98174

Pledge to attend here:
Lookup events in your area:

Lawyer Moms of America - Deliver Letter to Federal Offices
Friday, June 29, 12pm
Location: senator/representatives offices

Maintain Asylum for Victims of Domestic Abuse & Gang Violence

Call the Department of Justice’s main comment line at 202-353-1555. Tell them that the decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deny asylum to victims of gang violence and sufferers of domestic violence is wrong. These people need protection.


My name is [NAME] and I live in [CITY/STATE]. I am calling to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions that I do not support his asylum decision in the Matter of A-B. With this order, he and the Trump administration has turned its back on some of the most vulnerable people in the world. I demand the Attorney General stop his anti immigrant agenda. I, and many other citizens, stand against hate and xenophobia — and demand that the Department of Justice do the same. Thank you for standing with us against the Trump administration's heartless agenda.

Support the Keep Families Together Act

S. 3036 (H.R. coming) – Keep Families Together Act

  • Murray and Cantwell have both co-sponsored

  • 43 senators have signed, but no Republicans. Working friends and family to pressure their

  • Republican senators could be very helpful.

  • Larsen is one of the co-signers on the House bill that is yet to be introduced

H.R. 5950/S. 2937 – the HELP Separated Children Act

  • Jayapal and Larsen have sponsored H.R. 5950 (no other Reps in WA)

  • Only Murray has sponsored S. 2937 (Cantwell has not)

H.R. 2572 – Protect Family Values at the Border Act

  • No WA state representative has co-sponsored this act

H.R. 2043/S. 2468 – Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018

  • Jayapal and DelBene have co-sponsored H.R. 2043

  • No WA state senator has co-sponsored S. 2468

H.R. 5820/S. 2849 – Detention Oversight, Not Expansion (DONE) Act

  • Neither senator has co-sponsored

  • Jayapal has sponsored in the house (no other Reps in WA)

  • This is the most radical bill of the bunch and arguably only tangentially related to the issue at hand, but it’s important because it gets at the detention system itself, and is worth championing.


Here is a list of organizations that are on the front lines of this crisis. They desperately need financial support NOW.

Checks can be made payable to The Church Council of Greater Seattle
Memo line: “SeaTac Asylum-Seeker Assistance”

For non-monetary donations, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has a Humanitarian Respite Center that assists migrants and refugees in the area (they also have an Amazon wish list). You can also give non-monetary donations to the Kino Border Initiative.

Volunteer Opportunities

CARA Family Detention Project is recruiting indefinitely for attorneys, law students, or paralegals with an understanding of asylum law in the United States.
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project has volunteer opportunities for Spanish-speaking or Cantonese- speaking attorneys. They could use help from translators and interpreters as well. Search for these opportunities on the page.
Church Council of Greater Seattle: “Prepare to offer short-term shelter at congregations or private homes if/when asylum seekers are released from the SeaTac Federal Detention Facility while they make plans to reunite with children or find housing. Email Briana Brannan at”

Stay Informed

The New Border Crisis Following Trump's Executive Order (New Yorker)

How You Can Help End Family Separation and Ensure Protection for Children. (Kids in Need of Defense - KIND). Good resource.

A Cruel, Fatal Decision (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project on changes to asylum rules)

Updates and Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Asylum Seekers Detained at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac(Northwest Immigrant Rights Project)

Funding & Supply Chains

This is the best article going around on this topic: “Defense Contractors Cashing In On Immigrant Kids’ Detention.” Betsy Woodruff, Spencer Ackerman, DailyBeast, June 14, 2018.

Sleeping Giants is researching this and coming up with new companies at a good clip, so subscribe to their Facebook page or Twitter if you want to focus on this.