OCTOBER 04, 2010
Despite President Obama’s promise to create an unprecedented level of openness in government, the Homeland Security agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws is illegally withholding crucial data about its enforcement performance, according to a reputable independent research center that monitors the federal government.
Just six months ago, another Homeland Security agency— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—tried blocking the disclosure of information by charging the same group (Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse—TRAC) a ghastly $111,930 to obtain a description of files stored on a database. When news spread of the outrageous demand, the agency admitted it acted inappropriately and subsequently provided the records.
This week TRAC is accusing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of serious legal and procedural violations for failing to disclose performance data on how the agency is enforcing immigration laws. In doing so, ICE is violating long standing provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as well as its own administrative rules and policies set by the Department of Justice.
Seeking to determine if the federal government is fulfilling its responsibility, TRAC requested the records to reveal what ICE is doing and not doing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. Specifically the public records request asked for the agency’s anonymous alien-by-alien statistical data about the arrests, detentions, charges and removal activities.
Among the anonymous statistical data that ICE previously released but now said were “unavailable” were the city or state where the alien’s apprehension took place, the facility where the alien is currently being detained, the nature of the formal removal charges, the details of any criminal charges and the alien’s marital status.
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