Crime & Justice

ACLU sues for LA's Trump travel ban enforcement records

File: Supporters cheer as an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
File: Supporters cheer as an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
File: Supporters cheer as an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
File: Ali Khoshbakhti Vayeghan, an Iranian citizen who holds a valid visa, was allowed to return to the U.S. after being sent away under Trump's executive order on immigration.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
File: Supporters cheer as an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
File: President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 1, 2017.
Evan Vucci/AP


The ACLU is suing the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection's Los Angeles office for information about how LAX border patrol agents enforced President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

The ACLU’s lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, aims to get CBP to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the organization in early February. ACLU border litigation attorney Mitra Ebadolahi told KPCC that, since then, the ACLU hasn't received a response in a timely fashion as required by law.

“This issue is of the utmost sensitivity and it is very time sensitive,” she said. “The longer we wait, the less helpful the information is for the public in assessing the ways in which Customs and Border Protection is exercising its authority.”

This suit is one of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country, according to a statement issued by the organization. The Southern California suit seeks records on CBP’s implementation of executive orders at LAX and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. 

 “When Trump imposed his first Muslim ban, Customs and Border Patrol agents at LAX not only detained travelers for hours without proper access to food or places to sleep, they also withheld crucial information from family members and legal representatives,” ACLU attorney Devon Porter said in a statement. “CBP is a government agency.  The public has a right to know why they implemented President Trump’s orders in a way that created such havoc.”

In January, Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring citizens and refugees from seven mostly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the U.S. CBP's detention of travelers at LAX and airports around the country led to several days of protests.

https://twitter.com/josie_huang/status/825792909077155841

At the time, attorneys for detained travelers told KPCC that LAX border agents asked detainees to sign forms giving up their legal residency status.

The CBP declined to comment, telling KPCC that the organization does not comment on pending litigation.