News Release:Thursday, February 2, 2017
FOIA Filed as Part of Nationwide ACLU Campaign
The ACLU of Washington today joined ACLU affiliates in Montana and North Dakota to file a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request with the regional U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) office to learn how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s Muslim ban.
In some areas, CPB agents have acted in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation. The filing today is part of a coordinated effort from 50 ACLU affiliates, which filed 18 FOIAs with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning over 55 international airports across the country.
“We are taking this action to obtain information about how the Muslim travel ban is being carried out in practice. We want to ensure that people’s rights will not be violated,” said ACLU-WA legal director Emily Chiang.
In Seattle, two clients represented by the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project were released from Border Patrol custody at SeaTac Airport this past Sunday. The ACLU does not know of any other individuals currently in federal custody at airports in Washington state. However, media reports indicate that some CBP officials around the country have 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.
“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that block President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, 50 ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.”
The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders, and legal permanent residents have been affected by this action.