Council Sues ICE to Make ICE COVID-19 Plans Public

Council Sues ICE to Make ICE COVID-19 Plans Public


The American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit after Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for information about steps ICE has taken regarding an outbreak of COVID-19 and steps the agency will take to identify and treat detained individuals who are at risk of infection or who have become infected. 

The need for this litigation is urgent. Individuals in detained settings are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Agency records responsive to the Council’s request will provide attorneys—including pro bono attorneys who represent detained clients as part of Plaintiff’s Immigrant Justice Campaign (“Justice Campaign”) initiative—and advocates with up-to-date information about policies governing criteria for release, medical treatment, and communication access for those who remain detained. These records also will allow concerned stakeholders, including policymakers, to hold immigration agencies accountable for their treatment of detained individuals during the rapidly evolving public health crisis.

Though ICE granted Plaintiffs’s request for expedited processing of the FOIA request, the Council has not received any correspondence or responsive records from ICE since the beginning of April. As a result, Plaintiff filed a preliminary injunction in addition to a complaint to compel quick release of the COVID-19-related documents.

On June 11, the D.C. District Court granted the Council’s motion for a preliminary injunction in a FOIA case seeking information about ICE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order followed a hearing where the Council argued a preliminary injunction was necessary to compel the agency to comply with the law and expeditiously grant the Council’s FOIA request. The court issued a Memorandum Opinion on July 6.

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