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Immigration Law

ICE’s FOIA Office Backlog Shows Ballooning Wait Times

"The median time FOIA requests have been waiting unanswered in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s backlog has climbed 64 percent in just the last sixty days. During this period according to ICE records, receipts of new FOIA requests and monthly closure numbers have not noticeably changed so the rise may reflect management problems in ICE’s FOIA office.

Figure 1. Median Days Unanswered FOIA Requests Still Waiting for Response

Median Days Unanswered FOIA Requests Still Waiting for Response

These results are based upon very current ICE FOIA request-by-request records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The numbers are stark. See Figure 1. At the end of March, the median calendar days requests had been waiting unanswered was 64 days. By the end of April, this had risen to 81 days. Now as the end of May approaches it has ballooned to 105 days. This means that currently half of ICE’s backlog of pending requests have been waiting for more than 105 days unanswered. ICE’s oldest request has been waiting unanswered for 669 days.

It is unclear whether either ICE’s or DHS’s FOIA offices are aware of the seriousness of these growing response delays. Both ICE FOIA Officer Catrina Pavlik-Keenan and Dr. James V.M.L. Holzer, DHS Director of Disclosure & FOIA Operations were contacted by TRAC. However, neither have responded to TRAC’s inquiries asking for information on this situation." - TRAC, May 30, 2013.