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Initial Asylum-Related FOIA Victory in D.C.: Mezerhane de Schnapp v. USCIS

July 24, 2014 (1 min read)

Sandra Grossman and Rachel Zoghlin write: "On July 18, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates ordered USCIS to produce to the Court unredacted copies of all disputed documents remaining at issue in long-pending asylum-related litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 USC Section 552.  Plaintiff, Maria Andrea Mezerhane, a citizen of Venezuela, and daughter of the owner of the last independent television channel ("Globovision") critical of the Venezuelan Government, was widely recognized as having been ruthlessly persecuted by the Chavez regime.  Ms. Mezerhane and her family were forced to flee Venezuela and apply for asylum in the United States in August of 2010.  Despite the clear strength of Plaintiff and her family's independent but related asylum claims, and despite clear evidence that USCIS had approved the asylum cases just one month after they were filed, USCIS kept Plaintiff and her family members in immigration limbo for more than three years by failing to issue an asylum approval notice.  Before the District Court were the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment in which Defendant USCIS claimed that 46 pages were properly withheld under various FOIA exemptions.  Plaintiff sought additional disclosures under FOIA arguing in part that disclosure of all documents is of great public interest as it will help to protect the integrity and functioning of the U.S. asylum system.  USCIS must produce all remaining documents by July 31, 2014.  Case 1:13-cv-01461-JDB.  Attached is a copy of the Order."  [Hats off to Sandra Grossman and Rachel Zoghlin!]