L.A. City Attorney Files FOIA Request Over LAX Detainees
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Tuesday to gather information about those who were detained at LAX following President Trump's travel ban, City News Service reports. According to Feuer, the FOIA comes after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get answers from federal officials. Feuer went to LAX on January 28 following an executive order issued by President Trump preventing refugees and nationals from seven countries from accessing the United States. He was hoping to gather information about the situation and detainees. However, Feuer said he was blocked from meeting with any of the detainees, despite spending several hours at the airport. He told ABC 7 that he wanted to know how many people were being detained, yet federal officials were "unable and unwilling to provide any information."
On Tuesday, Feuer filed a FOIA with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Custom and Border Protection, and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. This follows a letter Feuer sent on February 3 to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and other federal officials.
In the request, Feuer further describes his hours spent at LAX, saying that he spoke with Mitchell Merriam, LAX port director for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
I attempted to communicate the urgency of the situation to Mr. Merriam. To exemplify the serious legal and physical deprivations caused by the detentions, I explained to Mr. Merriam that I had been approached that night by a woman who expressed fears for her elderly father, whom she reported was being detained, was suffering from Parkinson's disease, and was in need of medication. Mr. Merriam was dismissive of this serious health concern—indeed, of our entire exchange—stating he "had an airport to run." Instead of honoring any of my requests that night, Mr. Merriam told me that a high-ranking federal official would communicate with me the next day (Sunday).
Feuer further wrote that as of February 14, he had not received any such communication.
Feuer is now seeking the name of each person headed to or who landed at LAX since January 27, "who was traveling either under a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa, or other legal authorization, to enter the U.S. if that individual is from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen, or traveling under a USCIS refugee application."
The letter also requests the name of each traveler detained at LAX, noting that the word "detained" is to refer to anyone who was kept or held in "custody, confinement or interrogation, whether for questioning, searching or surveillance." Additionally, the letter also demands the name of any traveler who landed at LAX, but did not enter the U.S. for any reason, involuntarily or voluntarily.
Also, the letter requests the date and time each traveler entered the U.S. or was removed from or denied entry into the U.S.; the final destination for each traveler; information about any individual who may still be detained; and information regarding any instance in which a passport was confiscated and is still within the possession of the federal government.
He is also requesting detailed information about each traveler, including their name, address, place of employment, contact information, family information, and schooling information, if applicable, as well as any document or form that may have been signed by a traveler, or any written statements made to federal officials by travelers.