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State v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 19, 2018

STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR EXPEDITED DISCOVERY AND REGULAR STATUS CONFERENCES

          Hon. Marsha J. Pechman, United States Senior District Court Judge

         The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:

1. States' Motion for Expedited Discovery and Regular Status Conferences (Dkt. No. 15);
2. Defendants' Opposition to the Motion for Expedited Discovery and Regular Status Conferences (Dkt. No. 21);
3. States' Reply in Support of Motion for Expedited Discovery and Regular Status Conferences (Dkt. No. 26); all attached declarations and exhibits; and relevant portions of the record, rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that the request for expedited discovery is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED in part; the parties are referred to the body of the order for further details.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the request for regular status conferences is GRANTED; the first will be held Friday, July 27, 2018, 10:00 a.m., in the courtroom of the Honorable Marsha J. Pechman, U.S. Courthouse, Seattle, Washington.

         Background

         Seventeen states (and the District of Columbia; “the States”) have filed this action in defense of their own rights and in parens patriae for the residents within their borders who have been impacted by the Government's policy of separating families seeking asylum or other means of entry into the U.S. at the Southwestern border. ((Dkt. No. 1, Complaint ¶ 1.) The States seek an order (1) enjoining the U.S. from refusing to process asylum seekers who arrive at Southwestern border ports of entry; (2) declaring family separation for deterrence illegal; (3) requiring prompt family reunification for those separated; (4) preventing immigration authorities from conditioning reunification on withdrawal of asylum claims, agreeing to removal, paying the costs of reunification, or other conditions relating to the safety of the child; and (5) confirming the illegality of indefinitely detaining families. (Id. at § VI, Prayer for Relief.)

         The seventeen states (Washington, California, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Illinois Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, North Carolina, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) and the District of Columbia claim that they have been (or will be) recipients of parents and/or children separated and detained under the Government's policy of forcibly separating children from their parents upon entry through the Southwestern border. (Id. at ¶¶ 300-303, 306-07, 312-13, 319, 323-35, 336, 341.)

         There is a June 20, 2018 Executive Order (“EO”) suspending family separation (Complaint, Ex. 24), but it makes reunification contingent on “availability of appropriations” and exemptions from the requirements of the “Flores Settlement” (a decades-old agreement that makes it illegal to detain immigrant children indefinitely; Id., Ex. 30). Plaintiffs further claim that the EO appears to be limited to families who agree not to stay in the U.S.

         Plaintiffs report that their requests for information about the separated families have gone unheeded and unanswered, and their attempts to interview witnesses under Defendants' custody and control have been “delayed or obstructed.” (Ex. 2, Decl. of Poletti ¶¶ 34-38; Ex. 37, Decl. of Austria ¶¶ 3-10.) The list of topics on which Plaintiffs are seeking to expedite discovery is lengthy and includes:

1. Development and implementation of the separation policy;
2. The number of Separated Children in each Pltf State from January 1, 2018 to the present, by month and facility/sponsor placement;
3. The number of Separated Parents detained from January 1, 2018 to the present, by month and facility;
4. The number of Separated Parents released from January 1, 2018 to the present, including facility, conditions of ...

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