ACLU files FOIA suit for documents related to ‘Muslim ban’ implementation

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Tuesday demanding information about President Donald Trump’s executive orders restricting immigration and travel from Muslim-majority nations.

Filed jointly with ACLU affiliates in Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming and Alaska, the suit demands that the regional U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Portland, Oregon, release documents related to the on-the-ground implementation of the orders, the first of which Trump signed on Jan. 27. ACLU affiliates have coordinated in filing such lawsuits against Customs and Border Protection offices in 13 states nationwide.

The ACLU first filed an FOIA request on Feb. 2 seeking documents — including text messages, voicemails, emails, directives and training documents — related to the implementation of the orders at airports across the U.S. They are now suing because “the government has failed to substantively respond” to the request.

ACLU says the lack of response isn’t unexpected.

“[Customs and Border Protection] 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,” ACLU attorney Mitra Ebadolahi wrote in a statement. “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.” 

Trump’s first executive order, titled “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and banned entry for 90 days to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

On March 6, after a federal court had struck down that order, Trump tried again, this time removing the restriction on Iraq. That order, too, was soon blocked by federal judges.

All 13 lawsuits are available here.

Photo credit: Masha George, Creative Commons, Flickr