The northern New England chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union want to know more about immigration enforcement in the region. They say their previous Freedom of Information Act requests have gone unanswered, so they have filed suit against federal agencies to compel them to produce the records.
The ACLU chapters have documented what they say is an unprecedented and harsh pattern of federal immigration detentions, arrests and deportations since Donald Trump became president. The lawsuit offers the example of an asylum-seeker arrested at a Cumberland County courthouse as he met with his Portland lawyer. It also highlights deportation proceedings against New Hampshire couples who are citizens or whose children are, and the arrests of prominent members of an immigrant advocacy group in Vermont.
“It’s happening in Maine, it’s happening in New Hampshire, it’s happening in Vermont,” says Emma Bond, a lawyer with the ACLU’s Maine chapter. “They’ve been targeting previously safe locations like courthouses, they’ve been targeting community organizations and we are worried that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The ACLU has asked for records that detail the circumstances of those events, as well as communications between federal authorities, local law enforcement and local businesses. But so far, they say, there’s been little response.
A spokesman for Immigration and Customs enforcement says the agency does not comment on pending litigation.