American Immigration Council v. U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ____________________________________ ) AMERICAN IMMIGRATION ) COUNCIL, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) Civil Action No. 18-1614 (ABJ) ) U.S. IMMIGRATION AND ) CUSTOM ENFORCEMENT, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ____________________________________) MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiff American Immigration Council (the “Council”) has brought this action against the United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., seeking records on immigration enforcement activities. See Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 4] ¶¶ 1-2. The amended complaint contains three allegations against ICE and CBP: 1) failure to conduct adequate searches for responsive records; 2) failure to disclose responsive records; and 3) failure to grant plaintiff’s public interest waiver request. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 28–40. Pending before the Court is defendants’ motion for summary judgment, Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. # 27] (“Defs.’ Mot.”); Defs.’ Mem. of Law in Supp. of Defs.’ Mot. [Dkt. # 27-1] (“Defs.’ Mem.”). Plaintiff opposed and cross-moved for summary judgment. Pl.’s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. # 28] (“Pl.’s Cross-Mot.”), Pl.’s Opp. to Defs.’ Mot. and Mem. in Supp. of Pl.’s Cross-Mot. [Dkt. # 28-1] (“Pl.’s Cross-Mem.”). Since the complaint was filed, defendants have turned over many records, and so the remaining issues to be decided relate to defendants’ withholding of certain categories of data. See generally Pl.’s Cross-Mem.; Defs.’ Mem. For the following reasons both parties’ motions are granted in part and denied in part. BACKGROUND The Council is a “tax-exempt, not-for-profit educational and charitable organization” located in Washington, D.C. Am. Compl. ¶ 7. It works to “increase public understanding of immigration law and policy, advocate for the fair and just administration of our immigration laws, protect the legal rights of noncitizens, and educate the public about the enduring contributions of America’s immigrants.” Am. Compl. ¶ 7. It also “seeks . . . to hold the government accountable for unlawful conduct and restrictive interpretations of the law,” in order to ensure that actions taken pursuant to immigration laws are “executed in a manner that comports with due process.” Am. Compl. ¶ 7. On October 13, 2017, the Council submitted a FOIA request to CBP and ICE, seeking “a complete dataset containing detailed information about all individuals who were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection; encountered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; or removed from the United States between January 1, 2016 and October 10, 2017.” Ex. A to Am. Compl., Oct. 13, 2017 FOIA Request [Dkt. # 4-1] (“Request 1”) at 1. The Council sought information on: “(a) each individual who was apprehended by CBP, (b) each individual who was encountered by ICE, (c) each individual who was arrested by ICE, (d) each individual who was arrested by CBP, and (e) each individual who was removed or returned from the United States.” Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11. The Council’s “apprehensions and encounters” requests, listed above as (a) and (b), asked for ...

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