Clear, et al., v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, No. 1:2019-cv-07079 (E.D.N.Y., filed Dec. 18, 2019)
The American Civil Liberties Union and CUNY Law School CLEAR Project filed a FOIA lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in December 2019 over its Tactical Terrorism Response Teams (TTRT), which plaintiffs argue are discriminatory against individuals from the Middle East.
The complaint alleges that CBP is deploying secret teams across at least 46 airports and other U.S. ports of entry which target, detain, and interrogate innocent travelers. Frequently TTRT officers request that travelers unlock their electronic devices and subject them to search. While TTRTs operate largely in secret, CBP has publicly admitted the teams are explicitly targeting individuals who are not on any government watchlist and whom the government has never identified as posing a security risk. Former CBP Commissioner and form acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, has indicated TTRT officers may rely on their “instincts” or hunches to target travelers.
On February 21, 2021, the parties submitted cross-motions for summary judgment on all claims. The motions have been fully briefed and oral argument was held on April 26, 2021. On March 31, 2022, the Court indicated that it would partially grant and partially deny each party’s summary judgment motion. A written order is to be published forthwith.
Additionally, the ACLU of Northern California has filed an administrative complaint on behalf of an individual who was detained and interrogated by a TTRT.
- CLEAR Complaint
- ACLU of Northern California Administrative Complaint Letter
- Government Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment
- Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment
CBP’s Public Statements about TTRTs:
- Murtaza Hussain, His Visa Was Stamped, His Papers in Order. Then He Was Targeted by a Secretive CBP Task Force, The Intercept, May 13, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/05/13/customs-border-protection-profiling-airport/.
- Tarek Ismail & Scarlet Kim, A Secret CBP Team is Targeting and Detaining Innocent Travelers. We’re Suing, ACLU, Dec. 18, 2019, https://www.aclu.org/news/immigrants-rights/a-secret-cbp-team-is-targeting-and-detaining-innocent-travelers-were-suing/.
- Hannan Adely, Somali Man Granted Asylum: “I’m Feeling Like Somebody Who Came Back to Life Again”, North Jersey, July 16, 2019, https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2019/07/16/somali-man-wins-fight-to-join-wife-kids-in-us/1722751001/.
Counsel: American Civil Liberties Union
Contact: Scarlet Kim | American Civil Liberties Union Foundation | ScarletK@aclu.org