Media Contact

April 12, 2017


PHOENIX — The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today demanding government documents about the on-the-ground implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans.

Today’s action is one of 13 FOIA lawsuits filed by ACLU affiliates across the country. The ACLU of Arizona lawsuit is seeking records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Tucson Field Office, which covers Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s implementation of President Trump’s Muslim bans at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The ACLU first sought this information through FOIA requests submitted to CBP on February 2. Since the government has failed to respond substantively, the ACLU is now suing.

“Volunteer attorneys spent many nights at Sky Harbor, waiting to assist passengers who were detained because of the Muslim ban executive orders,” said ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Kathy Brody. “Although no one appears to have been held at Sky Harbor, it’s impossible for us to know what happened in the secure areas of the airport without transparency from the federal government. Restricting a person’s ability to travel is a severe action for the government to take and we all should know when and how it is being done.”

“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.

Each lawsuit seeks unique and 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.

The coordinated lawsuits seek information from the following local CBP offices: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Tucson.

In addition to Brody, David J. Bodney and Michael DiGiacomo, attorneys in the Phoenix office of Ballard Spahr LLP, represent the ACLU of Arizona in this lawsuit, ACLU of Arizona v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security and U.S. Dep’t of Customs and Border Protection.

The complaint is available here. The exhibits to the complaint are available here.

This release, as well as the complaint and exhibits from today’s lawsuit, are available here:

The ACLU national release from today is here:

The release on the original ACLU of Arizona FOIA request is here:

More background on CBP’s FOIA practices is here: