As part of a nationwide effort, the ACLU of Rhode Island and five other New England ACLU affiliates today filed a lawsuit demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump's Muslim bans.
The lawsuit is seeking records from the Boston field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) related to CBP's implementation of President Trump's Muslim bans at T.F. Green, Bradley, Bangor, Burlington, Logan and Manchester airports.
"As a number of courts have already ruled, President Trump's 'Muslim ban' executive orders are discriminatory and unconstitutional, and as such are an attack on our country's most fundamental values," said Steven Brown, executive director at the ACLU of Rhode Island. "Another fundamental principle of our democracy is the public's right to know - and that's where this lawsuit comes in."
The ACLU first sought this information through multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted to CBP offices around the country on February 2, 2017. Since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing to enforce the request. Today’s action includes 13 FOIA lawsuits across the country. Each lawsuit seeks unique local information regarding how CBP implemented the executive orders at specific airports and ports of entry in the midst of rapidly developing and sometimes conflicting government guidance. Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the executive order following a court challenge from the ACLU and other organizations.
"CBP has a long history of ignoring its obligations under the federal Freedom of Information Act - a law that was enacted to ensure that Americans have timely access to information of pressing public concern. The public has a right to know how federal immigration officials have handled the implementation of the Muslim bans, especially after multiple federal courts have blocked various aspects of these executive orders," said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.
The complaint on behalf of the New England ACLU Affiliates was filed by ACLU of Maine legal director Zachary Heiden and can be found here.