Santa Fe Dreamers Project v. U.S. Customs & Border Protection, No. 1:20-cv-00490 (D.N.M., filed May 21, 2020)
In response to the Trump Administration’s implementation of a series of new policies designed to dissuade asylum seekers from coming to the United States, an increasing number of immigrants’ rights advocates began representing asylum seekers in the U.S.-Mexico border region. In late 2018 and early 2019, reports emerged that federal law enforcement was surveilling attorneys and immigrants’ rights advocates as a result of this increased human rights work. In mid-December 2018, federal officials subjected El Paso-area advocates to increased questioning and detention while traveling through ports of entry and abroad. In April 2019, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project (SFDP) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seeking records related to border enforcement and the potential targeting of human rights defenders by border enforcement agencies. SFDP did not receive a single responsive document, nor has CBP conducted a timely search for the records requested.
On May 21, 2020, SFDP filed this FOIA lawsuit seeking to compel CBP to conduct a reasonable search and produce records responsive to their FOIA request. On June 24, 2020, Defendants filed their answer. Per their August scheduling order, Defendants must produce all responsive documents by November 6, 2020.
Counsel: Christopher Benoit, The Law Office of Lynn Coyle, PLLC
Contact: Christopher Benoit, The Law Office of Lynn Coyle, PLLC | email@example.com
Complaint Against CBP Over Failed Policies Regarding Return of Belongings
On April 6, 2016, the New Mexico ACLU Center for Border Rights, along with the Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional and other partners, filed a complaint with DHS which documented 26 cases in which belongings—including important identity documents, money, and irreplaceable personal items—were confiscated by Border Patrol agents from individuals they apprehended and never returned at the time that the individuals were deported. The reported cases highlight the devastating consequences that can flow from the loss of critical documents and money. These 26 incidents are illustrative of the serious systemic problems with respect to CBP’s policies on return of belongings, including the ability for individual agent’s to abuse the system.
Counsel: Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional, ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights, ACLU Foundation of Texas, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Contact: Kristin Love | firstname.lastname@example.org | (505) 266-5915 extension 1007
Administrative Complaint Re: Extreme Temperatures in CBP Short Term Detention Facilities
On February 2, 2016, NIP/NLG, in collaboration with Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional and the ACLU of New Mexico, filed an administrative complaint on behalf of persons held by CBP in short-term detention facilities where they are exposed to extreme temperatures. The administrative complaint also challenges the agency standards addressing temperature controls in short-term facilities, but asserts that the agency fails to abide even by these standards.
Shortly after the complaint was filed, DHS OIG announced that it would inspect short-term detention facilities.
Counsel: Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional (PDIB) | National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild | ACLU of New Mexico
Contact: Trina Realmuto | National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild | email@example.com
FTCA Administrative Complaint by Immigrant Mothers’ Against DHS/CBP/ICE
On August 10, 2015, five immigrant mothers sent administrative complaints to the Department of Homeland Security under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the abuses the women and their children had suffered while detained in ICE custody. These women, who fled their home countries due to endemic violence suffered at the hands of criminal gangs and intimate partners, sought asylum in the United States. After entering the custody of CBP/ICE, they endured deplorable detention conditions, including woefully inadequate medical and mental health care, little to no legal information as to their rights and/or fates, no educational services for the detained children, and lack of access to necessities such as food, water, clothing, and bathing facilities.
Counsel: R. Andrew Free | Barrett, Johnston, Martin & Garrison, LLC
Contact: R. Andrew Free | (615) 244-2202 | Andrew@ImmigrantCivilRights.com