From the inbox:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit [Wednesday] demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump’s Muslim ban.
Today’s action is part of a total of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country. The ACLU of Texas lawsuit is seeking records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Houston Field Office. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to CBP’s implementation of President Trump’s Muslim ban at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW). The ACLU first sought this information through FOIA requests submitted to CBP on February 6. The ACLU is now suing because, other than acknowledging receipt of the request, the government has failed to respond.
“Transparency and accountability in our government are fundamental marks of a vibrant democracy,” said Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney of the ACLU of Texas. “If our government is to be truly of the people, by the people, and for the people, the American public needs to know what goes on behind the veil of federal agencies. FOIA gives us that right. And with this lawsuit, we expect to find out more about CBP’s role in carrying out the Muslim ban.”
“President Trump has tried twice to force his unconstitutional and ham-fisted Muslim ban on the public, and twice American courts have had to remind him — swiftly — that he is not above the law,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “CBP’s refusal to comply with our FOIA requests indicates that not everyone in the Trump administration got the message. But we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that CBP respects our laws, as well as the people — all of the people — they protect.”
“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:
All of the affiliate FOIA lawsuits will be available here:
aclu-cbp-foia-lawsuits- regarding-muslim-ban- implementation
This release can be found here:
press-releases/aclu-texas- files-lawsuit-demanding- documents-implementation- trump-muslim-ban
The ACLU national release is here:
aclu-files-lawsuits-demanding- local-documents- implementation-trump-muslim- ban
The ACLU national release on the original FOIA requests is here:
aclu-files-demands-documents- implementation-trumps-muslim- ban
The ACLU of Texas release on the original FOIA request from is here:
press-releases/aclu-texas- files-demands-documents- implementation-trumps-muslim- ban
More background on CBP’s FOIA practices is here:
Here’s a Chron story about the lawsuit. Given what a debacle this all was (and still is), we deserve to know exactly what happened and to whom.