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Muslim Advocates Sues U.S. Customs and Border Protection Over TSA Muslim Profiling Documents

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Muslim Advocates sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that sought crucial information about anti-Muslim discrimination in the handling of Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry. Muslim Advocates is represented in the case by O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Trusted Traveler Programs allow certain international travelers who have successfully passed an extensive background check to bypass certain screening procedures. After President Trump enacted the Muslim Ban in 2017, multiple news outlets reported that CBP was revoking the Trusted Traveler membership of people from Muslim Ban countries as well as people with Muslim-sounding names. Because the government does not publicly reveal much about how it processes these credentials, applicants are left to wonder if they are being treated fairly by the process. 

This lawsuit marks the second time that Muslim Advocates has been forced to sue the Trump administration to obtain documents related to the Trusted Traveler Programs. In 2017, Muslim Advocates and the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center sued CBP, along with the Transportation and Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, for refusing to respond to a FOIA request seeking information about Muslim individuals whose Trusted Traveler credentials were revoked in aftermath of the Muslim Ban. Documents produced in that lawsuit revealed that individuals from Muslim-majority countries were being revoked at a higher level after the Ban than before it.

Seeking to answer questions raised by documents produced in its first lawsuit, Muslim Advocates sent a second FOIA request to CPB in June 2018 seeking additional information about how the Trusted Traveler Programs operate,  including the policies governing the program and statistics about who is granted a credential. Just as it did with Muslim Advocates’ previous FOIA request, CPB failed to meet a statutory deadline to provide this information or even provide a justification for this failure.

“By violating its legal obligation to reveal information about the Trusted Traveler Programs, CBP is preventing the public from learning of any abuses in the programs,” said Muslim Advocates Staff Attorney Matt Callahan. “The American people deserve to know whether CPB is managing the Trusted Traveler Programs in accordance with the Constitution or if it is illegally discriminating against Muslims.”

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Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.