Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HEARTLAND ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN NEEDS & HUMAN RIGHTS, D/B/A NATIONAL IMMIGRANT JUSTICE CENTER : : Plaintiff, : Civil Action No.: 16-204 (RC) : v. : Re Document No.: 54, 56 : UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCMENT et al., : : Defendants. : MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT I. INTRODUCTION On December 18, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which allocated federal funding for financial year 2016 for the federal agency U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). See Am. Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 31 (citing Am. Compl. Ex. 1, ECF No. 31-1). The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 stipulated that “funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds. . . .” Am. Compl. Ex. 1 at 4 (emphasis added). 1 This statute thus mandated that ICE “maintain” a minimum level of detention beds, thereby continuing a requirement that was first included as a budgetary condition in 2009. See Am. Compl. ¶ 8; Am. 1 Because the document itself is not paginated, the Court refers here to the ECF page number. Throughout this opinion, the Court uses the original page number if it is available and defaults to ECF numbering if not. Compl. Exs. 3–6, ECF Nos. 31-3–31-6. Since then, this requirement has been criticized by non- profit organizations and the national media on the grounds that ICE has construed “maintain” to mean “maintain and fill,” Am. Compl. ¶ 8, the specified level of detention beds, such that the statute amounts to a “detention bed quota” or “detention bed mandate,” see generally Am. Compl. Exs. 3–6 (compiling articles from Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times that discuss and critique the quota). According to such critics, the statute incentivizes ICE to fill a set number of beds in for-profit facilities as well as federal detention facilities, Am. Compl. ¶ 8, without considering factors such as “need,” id. ¶ 10 (quoting Ex. 3), “low-cost alternatives to detention,” id. ¶ 11 (quoting Ex. 5), whether the detainee is a violent offender, id. ¶ 12 (quoting Ex. 6), or the monetary cost of the policy, id. ¶ 13 (citing Ex. 7, ECF No. 31-7). Plaintiff National Immigrant Justice Center (“NIJC”) is among these critics. Seeking to “obtain pertinent information to inform the legal community and the public about ICE detention, release, and bond policies and procedures,” id. ¶ 14, NIJC submitted two FOIA requests in 2014 that sought production of records both from ICE and from the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB), respectively. As detailed below, Plaintiff submitted two further FOIA requests in 2017 to ICE and OMB. Id. ¶¶ 15, 24. Before and since the complaint in this matter was filed, ICE and OMB have searched for and produced records responsive to these FOIA requests. ...

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