REVEALED: Homeland Security ordered agents to ignore congresspeople seeking answers during travel ban rollout
A Freedom of Information Act request submitted by The Daily Beast reveals that in the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Homeland Security ordered Customs and Border Patrol agents to not speak to congresspeople and treat incoming calls from lawyers “like protest.”
The FOIA request reveals what many, like Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other congresspeople, already suspected when they were stonewalled at international airports when seeking information about people being detained there.
“I’m extremely troubled that CBP employees would be instructed by superiors to ignore congressional representatives trying to do their job, especially under such circumstances,” Booker said. “We suspected as much at the time, but it’s jarring to see it in black and white. I’ll be seeking more information from CBP on this matter.”
“The directives to disengage with congressmen, blocking their oversight, is huge, and yet another example of an assault on separation of powers and our democracy,” Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer who attended protests at Washington’s Dulles Airport, told the Beast.
Along with revelations about CBP’s orders to stonewall members of Congress, the Beast’s FOIA request also included an email sent February 1, a few days after Trump signed his first travel ban order, warning customs agents that calls from people identified as attorneys were “most likely a form of telephonic protest.”
It also included information about members of Congress, such as Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), who came to airports to request information on detainees, as well as photos and crowd size statistics profiling protesters.