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ACLU files lawsuits for access to travel ban records

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 12, 2017

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits Wednesday relating to requests for information on President Donald Trump's initial travel ban.

The ACLU's lawsuit is part of 13 total suits seeking records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices across the country, including San Diego's office.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed in February sought government documents regarding the on-the-ground implementation of the president's January executive order, which placed a 90-day ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and against Syria refugees resettling for 120 days.

Each lawsuit seeks information on how the executive order was carried out at local levels. 

"When Trump imposed his first Muslim ban, Customs and Border Patrol agents at LAX not only detained travelers for hours without proper access to food or places to sleep, they also withheld crucial information from family members and legal representatives," Devon Porter, attorney with the ACLU SoCal, said. "CBP is a government agency. The public has a right to know why they implemented President Trump’s orders in a way that created such havoc."

The ACLU said, "since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing."

Requested records include text communications between phones or other electronic devices; e-mails; and other documents - including guidance "provided to [Department of Homeland Security] field personnel" shortly following the initial order's signing.

"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 ACLU said.

The lawsuits pertain to CBP offices in:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Tampa
  • Tucson

Judges in Hawaii and Maryland have blocked the president's latest executive order banning travel from Iran, Libya, Somali, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

Past implementation of the president's executive orders on banning travel has ignited protests at international airports on several occasions.