On Feb. 3, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with its local U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office in Atlanta, GA, to expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s unconstitutional immigration ban. The filing is part of a coordinated effort from four ACLU affiliates in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Nationwide, 50 ACLU affiliates have filed eighteen FOIAs with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning fifty-five international airports across the country.
“Federal courts around the country have found President Trump’s Executive Order unconstitutional, but lawyers around the country are reporting that these orders are not being followed,” says ACLU of WV Legal Director Jamie Lynn Crofts.“The public has a right to know if the United States government is purposefully flouting court orders. And if they are, the people making those decisions must be held accountable. Situations like this are what the Freedom of Information Act is for.”
Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the Trump executive order through a petition from the ACLU and other organizations. In Georgia, a CNN producer was detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, despite being a permanent legal resident and having the proper paperwork.
“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that discontinue President Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban,” said MitraEbadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, fifty ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.”
The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders, and legal permanent residents have been affected by this unlawful action. In North Carolina, thirty- seven refugees scheduled to resettle in Charlotte this month were banned from entering the country.