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$82K in Attorney's Fees Awarded to AIC in FOIA Lawsuit: AIC v. DHS

March 11, 2015 (1 min read)

"A D.C. federal judge on Tuesday awarded the American Immigration Council about $80,000 in attorneys’ fees after it prevailed in its bid to get the Department of Homeland Security to turn over information about noncitizens' access to counsel during their interactions with federal immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said in his order that the AIC deserved fees under a provision of the Freedom of Information Act because the litigation was required to compel the DHS and its U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hand over the documents after the AIC’s administrative efforts were met with rejections or obfuscation.

“The sequence of events — as well as the government’s representations throughout — makes clear, moreover, that plaintiff’s lawsuit served as a necessary catalyst for the agency’s release of this significant body of responsive material," the order says.

Initially, the government told the AIC that the documents were all public. After its administrative challenge, the government turned over two documents from three different agencies.

However, during the instant suit, the government released at least 154 additional documents pertaining to the AIC’s request, which the judge said was a “180-degree reversal from their initial position that no further responsive records existed.”

AIC, an immigration rights advocacy nonprofit organization, sought the documents as part of its mission to ensure immigrants in proceedings have access to legal representation, according to court filings." - Aaron Vehling, Law360, Mar. 10, 2015.