A federal court in Atlanta on Wednesday ordered the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to speed up the release of documents related to the treatment of travelers during the early days of President Donald Trump’s so-called travel ban.
The ACLU of Georgia sued to gain quicker access to what it says are more than 17,100 pages of documents, alleging that the Department of Homeland Security dragged its feet in response to an Open Records request submitted in early February.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia agreed, calling for DHS to fully comply by June, releasing at least 1,000 pages per month until that time. It’s one of 13 such lawsuits filed by state offices of the ACLU around the country. CBP’s Atlanta field office is located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Mr. Trump’s original executive order issued Jan. 27, just after his inauguration, called for halting inbound travel from seven nations in North Africa and the Middle East.
During a chaotic rollout of the policy, many families arriving by plane from affected countries, including green card holders, were detained upon arriving at U.S. airports. Eleven were reportedly held in Atlanta. The move galvanized opponents, leading to a protest attended by thousands at the Atlanta airport.
Throughout myriad court challenges, immigration advocates have argued the order discriminates against Muslim travelers based on their faith in violation of the First Amendment.
The Trump administration has maintained that what it’s now calling “suspension” was based on the risk of terrorism emanating from these countries and the need to evaluate evaluate vetting processes for the way visas are granted.
Amid a legal barrage, Mr. Trump reissued a modified ban in June and another in September that removed Sudan and added Chad, North Korea and certain Venezuelan officials.
The Supreme Court Dec. 4 said it would allow the latest version of the ban to go into effect while challenges shake out in lower courts. A previous lower-court decision upholding the ban stipulated that it could only block travelers who lack “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity.