MILWAUKEE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin lawsuit is seeking records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Chicago Field Office. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to CBP’s implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans at any airports within the purview of that office, which encompasses airports in Wisconsin, O’Hare International Airport in Illinois, and many other airports.
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.
“Within hours of its announcement, the ACLU and our allies rose to the challenge by forcefully and successfully blocking President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban,” said Chris Ott, ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director. “But we face the ongoing challenge of understanding what its confused and heavy-handed rollout has meant for travelers. Transparency in government is critical, and our community has a right to know how the federal government implemented the Muslim ban.”
“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: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle,Tampa, and Tucson.
The release on the original FOIA requests is here:
More background on CBP’s FOIA practices is here: