American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) affiliates across the country are suing the Trump administration, saying U.S. officials failed to turn over requested documents on the implementation of the president's travel ban.
ACLU chapters have filed 13 lawsuits seeking information from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in more than a dozen cities including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The groups are pressing federal officials about how they were directed to implement President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order at specific airports and ports of entry. The order temporarily banned citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., as well as refugees.
The civil rights group said the requests were first filed under the Freedom of Information Act on Feb. 2, less than a week after Trump issued his initial order, which was temporarily blocked nationwide by a federal judge in Washington state a day later.
In one lawsuit filed in the federal district court for the Northern District of California, the ACLU chapters in Northern California, Hawaii and Utah said 100 to 200 people were detained as a result of the order. The ACLU chapters argued the documents they are seeking are critical in holding the government accountable.
"News reports described Defendants’ implementation of the Executive Orders as 'chaotic' and 'totally lacking ... clarity and direction,'" they said in the complaint. "Official DHS statements reflected this confusion."
The ACLU said the administration has a legal duty under the open records law to comply with request for records within 30 days.
Trump issued a revised travel ban that excluded Iraq after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate his original order, but it too was quickly blocked by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland.
The administration is appealing both lower court decisions. Arguments in those cases will be heard next month.