FOIA Filed As Part of Coordinated Campaign With 50 ACLU Affiliates
The ACLU of Maine and ACLU affiliates from across New England filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Boston office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to uncover how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s immigration ban.
The filing is part of a coordinated effort from 50 ACLU affiliates, which filed requests with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning 55 international airports across the country. Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the executive order following court challenges from the ACLU and other organizations.
“President Trump’s executive orders are a thinly veiled attempt to keep Muslims out of the country,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine. “The United States was founded on religious freedom, and our Constitution requires it. These orders are an attack on our most fundamental values.”
On January 28, a federal court in Boston issued a preliminary order barring the government from detaining lawful permanent residents and visa holders arriving at any U.S. port of entry. The order goes beyond an order issued by a federal court in New York, by also prohibiting secondary screening except as provided in statue and regulation prior to the executive order. The order is applicable nationwide, although the Trump administration has not conceded its nationwide scope. The ACLU of Massachusetts is counsel in the case, Tootkaboni v. Trump.
“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that block President Trump’s unconstitutional immigration 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, 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.
The FOIA request was joined by the ACLUs of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The request can be found here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/cbp_foia_new_england.pdf