ACLU of Wisconsin joins right-to-know campaign against Trump

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Right-to-know demands continue to mount against the Trump administration, which has removed some information from the public view and refused to release other records.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin filed one of the most recent lawsuits, a claim demanding government documents about the implementation of the Trump administration’s Muslim bans.

As of WiG press time April 15, ACLU affiliates had filed 13 freedom of information lawsuits.

The ACLU of Wisconsin suit seeks records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Chicago Field Office.  In particular, the lawsuit seeks records related to CBP’s implementation of Donald Trump’s travel bans at any airports within the purview of that office, which encompasses airports in Wisconsin.

The ACLU first sought the information through FOIA requests submitted to CBP in February. The government failed to substantively respond and the ACLU sued.

ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ott said, “Transparency in government is critical and our community has a right to know how the federal government implemented the Muslim ban.”

Mitra Ebadolahi, an ACLU staff attorney specializing in border litigation, added, “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.”

Each lawsuit seeks information regarding how CBP in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Tucson implemented the executive orders at specific airports and ports of entry in the midst of rapidly developing and conflicting government guidance.

Happening at the White House?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute are suing under the Freedom of Information Act for records of visits to the White House and President Donald Trump’s residences in Florida and New York.

The visitor logs, which the Obama administration began posting online in 2009, are maintained by the Secret Service but the Trump has refused to turn them over.

“We hoped that the Trump administration would follow the precedent of the Obama administration and continue to release visitor logs, but unfortunately they have not,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW. “Given the many issues we have already seen in this White House with conflicts of interest, outside influence and potential ethics violations, transparency is more important than ever, so we had no choice but to sue.”