Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND: ETHICS IN WASHINGTON, et al., : : Plaintiffs, : Civil Action No.: 18-2473 (RC) : v. : Re Document Nos.: 14, 19 : U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND : SECURITY, et al., : : Defendants. : MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION; GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS I. INTRODUCTION On April 6, 2018, the administration of President Donald J. Trump began implementing the so-called “zero tolerance policy” on unauthorized immigration. Under the new policy, the administration ended its earlier practice of funneling most aliens apprehended at the border through civil immigration proceedings, and instead started systematically detaining and criminally prosecuting suspected illegal immigrants for unlawful entry into the country. Because minor children could not be held in criminal custody with adults, component agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) also began systematically separating families apprehended together when attempting to enter the country. While adult family members were sent to criminal custody, DHS placed the minor children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), in a poorly-documented interagency process that often had the practical result of parents and family members being completely cut off from, and unable to communicate with, their separated children, for weeks—sometimes months—at a time. The significant public backlash in response to the zero tolerance policy, and particularly to the thousands of family separations the Trump administration conducted in just a few months, eventually led President Trump to issue an executive order on June 20, 2018, directing DHS to stop separating families apprehended at the border. In response to a class-action lawsuit by parents of separated children, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California entered a preliminary injunction the same month ordering the administration to reunite currently separated children with their alien parents. But the fallout from the zero tolerance policy did not stop there. Reports prepared by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) and DHS’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) following the end of mandatory separations brought to light a wide range of deficiencies in DHS’s implementation of the policy, including in the agency’s recordkeeping practices associated with family separations. Although they spend much of the amended complaint and of their briefs discussing the botched implementation and consequences of the zero tolerance policy, it is those recordkeeping practices that Plaintiffs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, Inc. (“RAICES”) challenge in this suit. Plaintiffs bring three claims against DHS and the Secretary of Homeland Security for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701–06. Plaintiffs allege that DHS violates the Federal Records Act (“FRA”), 44 U.S.C. §§ 2101–20, 2901–11, 3101–07, 3301–14, by 1) maintaining a deficient records management program, 2) failing to create records sufficient to link migrant children to adult companions with whom they are apprehended at the border, and 3) failing to create records ...

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals