Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

ACLU requests all travel ban communications

Delaware Public Media

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to dig through communications between local customs offices and the Trump administration to figure out why some foreign travelers were improperly detained.


ACLU chapters in all 50 states filed a Freedom of Information Act request with their local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices last week to obtain those communications.   

They want to find out why some customs agents seemingly ignored court rulings freezing parts of Trump’s travel ban, according to Delaware ACLU Executive Director Kathleen MacRae. 


"People were sent back, even though they had legitimate documents. The lawyers were not allowed access to the detainees,” she said. 


There was a lot of confusion when President Trump issued an executive order in late January barring travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.


And then there was even more confusion when federal courts started freezing parts of the executive order.


But were customs agents confused when some of them failed to follow those court rulings? Or were they willfully disobeying the law?


“I think that’s what the written record is going to show us,” MacRae said. 


The ACLU's FOIA requests include all communications between customs agents and the Trump administration, from official memos to texts and Tweets.


They hope these messages will help them determine whether customs agents were confused by the competing orders from the courts and the president. Or if they were given orders to ignore the court rulings. And if so, by whom?


"We want to make sure that the Trump administration is put on notice that people are watching,” MacRae said. 


The ACLU and its state affiliates have filed a total of 18 FOIA requests that cover every major airport in the United States.

MacRae said there's no room for confusion when people’s liberty hangs in the balance.