ACLU of Arizona, et al. v. Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, DHS, et al. – CBP Child Abuse FOIA Litigation

ACLU of Arizona, et al. v. Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, DHS, et al., No. 15-00247 (D.Ariz. filed Feb. 11, 2015)

This lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) challenges the failure of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and several of its component agencies to produce records related to the abuse and mistreatment of children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its sub-agency, the U.S. Border Patrol. The ACLU affiliates seek the requested records to shed light on longstanding allegations of abusive treatment of children by Border Patrol, including prolonged detention in degrading and inhumane conditions. They also seek information on how the subcomponent agencies within DHS that are responsible for investigating and responding to complaints of abuse by agency personnel—including both the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Office of the Inspector General—have handled complaints related to Border Patrol’s abuse of children.

DHS and the named subcomponent agencies all failed to produce any records within the time period mandated by FOIA. Plaintiffs filed suit after this period elapsed, asking that the court order the agencies to produce the requested records.

In March 2016, the government sought yet another extension of the production deadlines.  The district court held that there were no “exceptional circumstances” warranting further extensions, in an order that should be helpful to other FOIA requesters dealing with DHS delays.

Counsel: Victoria Lopez, Dan Pochada, James Duff Lyall, ACLU of Arizona; David Loy, Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties; Aarti Reddy, Whitty Somvichian, Cooley, LLP.

Contact: Mitra Ebadolahi | ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties |  mebadolahi@aclusandiego.org

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