The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans.
Today’s action is part of a total of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country. The ACLU of Georgia lawsuit is seeking records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Atlanta field office. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to CBP’s implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, where a number of travelers were detained and where thousands of people gathered in protest against the president’s actions. Trump’s Muslim bans also threaten Georgia’s economy, which depends on workers from around the world.
The ACLU first sought this information through FOIA requests submitted to CBP on February 2. Since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing.
“Trump’s Muslim bans had an especially harmful impact here in Atlanta, where immigrants and refugees – who should have been welcomed with open arms – faced questioning and detention upon their arrival at Hartsfield airport,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young. “As a public entity, CBP answers to the people – and the people have a right to know how officials have implemented policies that caused so much disruption, uncertainty and anguish for our friends, neighbors and co-workers.”
“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.
Each lawsuit seeks unique and 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.
The coordinated lawsuits seek information from the following local CBP offices:
All of the affiliate FOIA lawsuits will be available here.
The release on the original FOIA requests is here. More background on CBP’s FOIA practices is here.