April 12, 2017

MONTPELIER—The ACLU of Vermont joined five other New England ACLU affiliates today in filing a lawsuit demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans.

The lawsuit is seeking records from the Boston field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) related to CBP’s implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans at Bradley, Bangor, Burlington, Logan, Manchester and T.F. Green international airports.

“Try as it might, the Trump administration cannot hide from the fact that these executive orders are in service of candidate Trump’s promise to enact ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’” said Lia Ernst, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Vermont. “This religious test for travelers to the United States is flagrantly unconstitutional, and the public deserves to know how it has been executed in Vermont and the entire New England region.”

The lawsuit comes as the ACLU of Vermont continues to receive reports of travelers harassed and turned away at Vermont’s northern border, including Muslims who appear to have been subjected to religious discrimination. Yesterday, CBP released data showing officers have nearly doubled searches of electronic devices at Ports of Entry at the same time Congress is considering legislation to rein in the practice. The ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit is designed to uncover how CBP has implemented the executive orders and the full impact those orders are having on the civil liberties of international travelers.

The ACLU first sought this information through multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted to CBP offices around the country on February 2. Since the government has failed to substantively respond, the ACLU is now suing to enforce the request. Today’s action includes 13 FOIA lawsuits across the country.

Each lawsuit seeks unique 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.

“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.

The complaint can be found here:

Information about the original FOIA request can be found here:

More background on CBP’s FOIA practices is here: