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NC ACLU files public information request to find out more about enforcement of Trump’s travel ban

Protesters at RDU Airport

Protesters of President Donald Trump’s travel ban gathered Sunday at Raleigh Durham International Airport. Photo by Lisa Sorg

The ACLU of North Carolina filed a Freedom of Information Act request Thursday with the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Atlanta to find out more about President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

The organization said in a media release that it wants to “expose how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s unconstitutional immigration ban.” ACLU affiliates in Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia helped coordinate the filing.

Eighteen FOIA requests have been filed by ACLU affiliates nationwide with CBP offices and its headquarters, spanning 55 international airports across the country.

Trump signed a travel ban Friday that affects seven Muslim-majority nations.

Rob Brisley, a public affairs officer with the CBP office in Atlanta, told NC Policy Watch on Tuesday that the number of people affected in North Carolina airports by the ban was not available. He pointed instead to the agency’s website, which reports overall national numbers for “recommended denial of boardings” and granted waivers for visa holders.

As of Wednesday (the most up-to-date report), there were 1,136 recommended boarding denials and 87 waivers for individuals with visas, according to the website.

The ACLU and other legal groups successfully challenged the ban in court. However, media reports have indicated that CBP officials detained and deported individuals even after the federal courts ordered them to stop enforcing Trump’s executive order.

In Georgia, a CNN producer was detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, despite being a permanent legal resident and having the proper paperwork, according to the ACLU release.

“President Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban has disrupted people’s lives and spread fear and uncertainty throughout our communities,” said Irena Como, Staff Attorney with the ACLU of N.C. “It is more important than ever for immigration and customs officials to be accountable to the public.”

The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders and legal permanent residents have been affected by this unlawful action. In North Carolina, 37 refugees scheduled to resettle in Charlotte this month were banned from entering the country.

“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that discontinue President Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, fifty ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.”

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