The American Civil Liberties Union Wednesday sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in San Diego and other cities, demanding government documents detailing the implementation of since-scuttled executive orders temporarily banning travel from predominantly Muslim nations.
The ACLU first sought the information in February, “but since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing,” the civil liberties group said in a statement.
CBP spokesman Ralph DeSio said that “as a matter of policy, CBP does not comment on pending litigation.”
The federal Freedom of Information Act was enacted to ensure timely access to information of 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.
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked the most current executive order that would have suspended the unrestricted entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somali, Sudan, Syria and Yemen into the U.S. for 90 days. It follows an earlier executive order from President Donald Trump that was stopped by federal courts in early February.
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, according to the ACLU.
The complaints seek information from customs offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and a dozen other cities across the country with international airports. The requests seek records involving implementation of the travel bans, including text messages, voicemails, emails, contracts, directives and training documents.
The implementation of Trump’s orders have been the subject of public concern, “as reflected by mass protests around the country, substantial news coverage and numerous lawsuits filed following the president’s signing of each executive order,” according to the lawsuit.
–City News Service