The National Iranian American Council joined several other organizations in signing onto a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding the release of detention records from the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The release of detention records would provide advocacy groups with information needed to stand against the Trump administration’s attack on sanctuary cities and immigrants in general.
Organizations signing included the National Immigration Law Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, alongside 40 others.
The letter highlighted the Department’s legal obligation to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA allows individuals and organizations to demand access to records.
The FOIA statute permits the withholding of information only if an agency reasonably foresees that releasing the information would be harmful to operations or its disclosure is otherwise prohibited by law. The letter argues that ICE overuses the excuse that a disclosure would harm its operational capabilities in order to avoid providing information.
The letter referred to similar FOIA requests filed by state representatives and law enforcement agencies as evidence for the necessity of greater transparency regarding ICE activities and of the broader policy implications of the issue.
The records being withheld are known as “Declined Detainer Outcome Reports,” which are meant to be released weekly. The reports detail which non-Federal jurisdictions in the country do not honor detainer requests issued from the federal ICE office. Given the inaccurate and misleading nature of information contained in previous reports, access to the data is required for advocates to have proper insight into the Administration’s immigration crackdown.
The letter demands access to previously released data on sanctuary cities as a minimum requirement under the FOIA.