The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, along with ACLU affiliates from the five other New England states, filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking government documents about the implementation of President Trump’s travel ban.
“President Trump’s multiple executive orders have been a thinly veiled attempt to keep Muslims out of the country,” Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine, said in a statement. “The United States was founded on religious freedom, and our Constitution requires it. These orders are an attack on our most fundamental values, and the American people deserve to know how they are being carried out.”
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeks records from the Boston field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection about how any travel ban may have been carried out in six international airports in New England. The airports are Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut; Bangor International Airport; Burlington International Airport in Vermont; Logan International Airport in Boston; Manchester-Boston Regional International Airport in New Hampshire; and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The ACLU had sought records under a Freedom of Information Act request submitted Feb. 2 and is now suing to enforce that request, which has not been filled. Similar suits have been filed in 13 federal courts across the country. Each seeks the same basic information: How border officials carried out the president’s executive orders at various airports.
Trump first signed an executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries on Jan. 27, saying the ban was needed to ensure Americans’ safety. That order was widely criticized and created chaos at airports across the country. It was quickly challenged in court, and struck down by federal judges, prompting the administration to abandon the order and issue a new one in March that also is under legal challenge.
“(Customs and Border Protection) 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,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project staff attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “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.”
Rachel Healy, a spokeswoman for the ACLU of Maine, said her office knew of no incidents at the Bangor airport related to the travel ban.
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