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L.A. city attorney is denied security clearance to LAX customs areas

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer has appealed the federal government's decision to deny him access to areas of LAX run by Customs and Border Protection.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer has appealed the federal government’s decision to deny him access to areas of LAX run by Customs and Border Protection.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer is appealing a decision by federal immigration officials denying him access to parts of LAX controlled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, his office announced Friday.

Feuer has been trying to access the secure customs area since President Trump issued his initial executive order blocking refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations. The city attorney drove to the airport Jan. 27 to look into claims that officers were detaining travelers who held proper visas and approved refugee applications. But federal agents turned him away.

A week later, Feuer, a vocal opponent of Trump’s so-called travel bans, sent a formal request to Customs and Border Protection for security clearance to enter all areas of LAX unescorted.

In a letter dated March 20, the CBP port director at LAX, Mitchell Merriam, denied that request — citing a federal code but not explaining how it applied to the city attorney.

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On Friday, Feuer sent a return letter appealing the denial, saying that the law required the agency to “fully stat[e] the reasons for denial.”

“I have broad responsibilities directly relevant to LAX,” he wrote.

The city attorney argued that accessing the area was crucial to his “responsibilities as the lawyer for the people of Los Angeles.”

Trump’s first executive order and a subsequent revised one that reduced the targeted countries to six have been struck down by federal judges. The second order is pending appeal.

joe.mozingo@latimes.com

@joemozingo

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