IRLI Sues ICE Over Lack of Transparency on Immigration Violators

Press Releases

April 25, 2024

Agency practice makes it more difficult to track cases of criminal aliens

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seeking information and emails regarding the agency’s policies about how and when to name illegal alien criminals and other immigration violators in its press releases.

Recently, ICE began omitting the names of immigration violators it has arrested from agency press releases, making it virtually impossible for journalists and researchers to locate information relevant to ICE enforcement actions.

IRLI first sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to ICE seeking these records in July of 2023. Under FOIA, federal agencies are legally required to provide requested public records within twenty working days of request. However, more than eight months later, ICE had still provided nothing to IRLI, making the lawsuit necessary to compel production. 

In February of this year, IRLI published a report finding that while under the Trump Administration, ICE’s press releases identified 97 percent of their subjects, under the Biden Administration that number dropped to only 67 percent.

As IRLI’s report noted at the time, “Without the name of the individuals referenced in ICE press releases it is virtually impossible for the public, watchdog groups and the media to determine what action, if any, ICE has taken to remove a violator from the United States.”

”This is yet another shameless attempt by the current administration to hide the disastrous impact of its immigration policies,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Not including the names of criminal immigration violators is effectively flushing their cases down the memory hole so that watchdog groups will have a more difficult time holding this White House accountable for their destructive actions. The American people deserve transparency on this matter.”

“ICE’s sudden decision to omit the names of alien offenders from press releases appears to be a deliberate attempt to keep the public from determining whether dangerous foreign criminals have been removed from the United States. That’s rather hypocritical coming from an administration that claims to be the most transparent in the history of the U.S.” said Matt O’Brien, IRLI’s director of investigations.

The case is Immigration Reform Law Institute v. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, No. 24-cv-1101 (D.D.C.)

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