Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, No. 1:22-cv-10301 (D. Mass., filed Feb. 23, 2022)

On February 23, 2020, the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (the Clinic) sued Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Clinic filed the FOIA in response to CBP denying entry to several Harvard students of Middle Eastern descent—many from Iran. Some were given expedited removal orders or had their visas revoked, even though the Department of State performed extended security checks during the visa processing.

The FOIA request identified three categories of information the Clinic sought from CBP: (1) records regarding the expedited removal of students at a port of entry; (2) records regarding withdrawal of admission by students at a port of entry; and (3) directives, policies, and communications by CBP regarding visa holders at ports of entry. CBP failed to provide an adequate response. The Clinic requested documents starting January 1, 2012, and the only documents CBP produced were from 2020. CBP also failed to produce any policy directives.

The Clinic filed an administrative appeal, requesting the responsive records and all non-exempt portions of the records. The administrative appeals unit ordered CBP to conduct a new search, but CBP failed to timely respond, and the Clinic sued.

Since the initial filing, CBP filed its answer to the complaint. On May 16, 2022, the court ordered a status report due July 15, 2022.

Counsel: Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Harvard Law School
Contact: Sabrineh Ardalan | sardalan@law.harvard.edu