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ACLU of Ohio Files Suit For Immigration Ban Documents

photo of Hopkins protest

The ACLU of Ohio has joined a nationwide lawsuit to force the release of documents on the implementation of President Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

The suit comes after the ACLU filed Freedom of Information requests for the documents in February, just after President Trump's first travel ban was announced. There’s been no response, so now ACLU chapters across the country have filed suits to compel the release of the documents.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson says travelers to airports in Cleveland and Columbus may have experienced different issues with the ban compared to places like New York.

“We all got the same blanket lack of response, so we coordinated the filing of our lawsuits around the country to demand information.”

Levenson adds that it’s not unusual for such requests to be ignored by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the court may impose sanctions for failing to provide the information in the first place.

Both the original immigration ban – and another issued last month -- have been blocked by federal courts. Levenson says the ACLU is looking for more than just information on people whose rights may have been violated.

“We’re also looking for generalized information about the policies and procedures as they were communicated to the government agencies that were supposed to enforce the executive order. The way the executive order rolled out was so chaotic and inconsistent, we’re not sure how it was communicated or how it was executed.”

Levenson adds that her group has gotten reports of about 100 people who were detained at Cleveland Hopkins and John Glenn Columbus airports.

Calls to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Office in Chicago were not returned.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.