ACLU San Diego et al. v. DHS et al. (SoCal Roving Patrols FOIA)

American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties et al v. Department of Homeland Security et al., No: 8:15-cv-00229-JLS-RNB (C.D. Cal., filed Feb. 20, 2015)

This is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case challenging defendant Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s failure to respond to Plaintiffs’ request for information regarding U.S. Border Patrol’s interior enforcement / “roving patrol” operations in Southern California.

There is little publicly-available information regarding the extent or impact of Border Patrol roving patrol operations, or regarding Border Patrol agents’ respect for regulatory or constitutional limitations on their authority.   In Southern California, Border Patrol agents are present throughout a number of both major metropolitan and rural areas a considerable distance from the U.S.-Mexico border, including Fallbrook, CA (seventy miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border), Laguna Beach, CA (almost ninety miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border), and Long Beach, CA (over 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border).

Because Border Patrol does not release stop data or other information related to roving patrol operations, Plaintiffs filed a FOIA request with Defendants in July 2014, seeking records related to U.S. Border Patrol’s “roving patrol” operations in the San Diego and El Centro Sectors, including relevant agency policies, stop data, and complaint records.

DHS entirely ignored the request.  CBP sent the ACLU a series of contradictory emails, none of which were legally adequate responses under the FOIA itself or DHS regulations. In February 2015, Plaintiffs filed suit in the Central District of California to compel Defendants to release the requested records. On June 23, the Court issued a scheduling order requiring Defendants to produce all responsive records on or before November 2, 2015.

On January 27, 2017, the Court heard arguments on the parties’ respective Motions for Summary Judgment. On February 10, 2017, the Court issued an order denying both Motions for Summary Judgment, and additionally requiring (1) that the government provide specified documents to the Court for in camera review, and (2) that both parties submit supplemental briefing. The parties submitted supplemental briefing on April 5, 2017, and subsequent replies on April 19, 2017.

Counsel: ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties | ACLU of Southern California | University of California, Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic

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

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