Texas Civil Rights Project et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, No. 1:20-cv-02389 (D.D.C., filed Aug. 27, 2020)
In March 2020, the Trump Administration began carrying out summary expulsions pursuant to Title 42 § 265 of the U.S. Code and the CDC’s implementing regulations. The Administration removed noncitizens without travel documents apprehended at the border – including unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers – without any legal process under the ruse of mitigating the spread of COVID-19. In late July 2020, news began breaking that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been contracting with private contractors to detain immigrant children as young as one in hotels along the U.S.-Mexico border prior to carrying out such summary expulsions, regardless of whether the child had tested positive for COVID-19 or not. While detained in these hotels, children, including unaccompanied minors, were unable to contact family members, denied access to counsel, and denied any legal process before being removed to countries where many feared persecution.
In response, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) submitted three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), DHS, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to obtain more information about the government’s treatment of unaccompanied children who have crossed the border in recent months. Specifically, the organizations sought records encompassing (1) the standards use to determine whether unaccompanied and undocumented children are immediately expelled or allowed to apply for humanitarian relief; (2) statistics on how many children have been expelled and to where; (3) the secret locations where DHS detains children prior to Title 42 expulsion; and (4) the identity of the companies that DHS had contracted with to transport and detain children. Plaintiffs received no response to their requests.
On August 27, 2020, TCRP and ICAPfiled this suit seeking to compel CBP, ICE, and DHS to conduct a reasonable search and produce records responsive to their FOIA request. Defendants filed their answer on October 8, 2020, and the parties have filed periodic status reports as production in response to the FOIA request continues.
Counsel: Robert D. Friedman, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown University Law Center
Contact: Robert Friedman, Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Georgetown University Law Center | firstname.lastname@example.org