ACLU-Indiana joins nationwide fight for immigration ban records

Indiana’s American Civil Liberties Union affiliate is joining a nationwide request for public records thought to be able to shed light on federal border patrol agencies’ interpretation and implementation of recent presidential immigration orders.

The ACLU of Indiana filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the local U.S. Customs & Border Protection Office on Thursday “to expose how (President) Trump’s administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s immigration ban, acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation.” The local FOIA filing is part of a nationwide effort among 50 ACLU affiliates that collectively filed 18 FOIA requests after the president signed an order on Jan. 27 barring the admission of residents of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen into the United States for 90 days.

In its FOIA request, which was collectively filed with ACLU affiliates in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, the ACLU of Indiana writes that despite orders from five federal courts to temporarily stop the enforcement of Trump’s executive order, “some CBP officials appear to be continuing to detain individuals – though the approach appears to differ by location.”

To that end, the affiliates requested a variety of email, text, phone and other records relating to CBP’s “interpretation, enforcement, and implementation” of the executive order, additional guidance from federal agencies and the five judges’ orders. Additionally, the ACLU requested data on the number of individuals who are or were detained at international airports, including those who were released, placed in immigration detention or removed from the country.

“Hoosiers from across the state have expressed deep concern over the president’s executive order,” Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, said in a statement released Thursday. “They want to know how the order is being implemented in our local airports and whether it is consistent with the Constitution and recent federal court orders.”

Further, the affiliates requested that the records be produced on an expedited 10-day schedule, with all related fees waived.

“There is a ‘compelling need’ for these records, as defined in the (federal) statute, because the information requested is ‘urgen(tly)’ needed by an organization primarily engaged in disseminating information ‘to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity,’” the FOAI request states.

Several hearings on requests for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders against the presidential executive order were scheduled across the country today, including in Massachusetts, Washington and New York. Additionally, hearings on how the order should affect green card and visa holders were scheduled for today in Virginia and Michigan.

The national ACLU FOIA request can be read here



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