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ICE Takes A Year To Say It Can't Find Data: Withholds information on deportation orders sought in Immigration Court

April 20, 2012 (2 min read)

"Syracuse, N.Y. — On April 20 the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) appealed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concerning its response to TRAC's April 25, 2011 request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for anonymous alien-by-alien data covering all individuals against whom the Department of Homeland Security had filed charges in Immigration Court.

After nearly a year on April 12, 2012 TRAC finally received a response dated April 5 from FOIA Officer Catrina M. Pavlik-Keenan in which she declined to provide any records. The rationale given was that the agency "cannot reliably identify" cases it has filed or has pending before the Immigration Courts. Rather than releasing what it claimed would be incomplete data the agency refused to release any information.

If truthful, the statement that ICE is unable to keep track of what cases it has filed in the Immigration Courts is an astounding admission, and one suggesting serious managerial problems within the agency. Clearly, the public has a strong interest in determining the extent to which the agency may have lost track of the cases it has filed in the Immigration Courts. While it may be embarrassing for the agency to release records documenting how often it loses track of such cases, the inability to identify all court cases does not provide any legal justification for withholding those records which can be located.

Among the items of information being withheld are information on the location and nature of the original arrest that led to ICE custody, the DHS program — secure communities, project streamline, criminal alien program, etc. — responsible, specifics of any crimes (if any) committed by the individual, the age, current legal status and family ties, as well as the basis for ICE's claim that the Immigration Court should order the individual deported."

For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2012
Susan B. Long, TRAC (315) 443-3563
David Burnham, TRAC (202) 518-9000
   TRAC's Appeal of April 20, 2012
   ICE Reponse to TRAC's FOIA Request
   TRAC's FOIA Request of April 25, 2011
   Help Support TRAC's FOIA Efforts
   Other TRAC FOIA Activities