WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia filed a coordinated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request today with their local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices to expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s unconstitutional immigration ban, acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation.
The filing today is part of a coordinated effort from 50 ACLU affiliates, which filed 18 FOIAs with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning 55 international airports across the country.
“Trump’s executive order is based on irrational fear and racial animosity,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “And when it was rolled out in airports nationwide, just hours after it was signed, it created confusion for those implementing it and heartache for those who were impacted by it.
“The federal government must provide information confirming that officials are following court orders restraining the ban and details on how the remaining portions of the ban are being implemented in Pennsylvania. An open, transparent democracy demands nothing less.”
The FOIA request specifically seeks any documents that give guidance to federal agents in implementing the immigration ban, as well as what instructions they received from the Trump Administration after several federal courts put a temporary stop to deportations. It also seeks information about the total number of individuals who were detained and how many of those individuals were ultimately released into or deported from the United States.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has received many calls from people worried about family members now blocked from visiting the U.S., worried about how pending visa applications and status petitions might be affected, and concerned about people being intimidated into giving up their rights in order to be admitted to the U.S.
“The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to guarantee that government operates in the sunlight, not in the shadows,” said Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The public should know how this ban is being implemented. And if any federal officials are operating in defiance of court orders, they must be held accountable.”
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.
The following ACLU affiliates participated in this coordinated FOIA filing:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Northern California
- Rhode Island
- San Diego, California
- South Carolina
- Southern California
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
The FOIA filings can be found here: