Long v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2014)

Topic(s): 
Government Transparency — FOIA
Case Description: 

The co-directors of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) filed this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for their failure to disclose records responsive to FOIA requests seeking technical documentation for and data extracts from several immigration-related law enforcement and operations databases.

Both parties have moved for summary judgment. Plaintiffs argued that defendants’ Exemption 7(E) claim to withhold records of the structure and metadata of the databases and technical documentation for the databases failed because the records did not reveal techniques, procedures, or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. Plaintiffs also argued that the risk of a cyber-attack that defendants contended would result from disclosure of these records was not a “circumvention of the law” within the meaning of Exemption 7(E), and it was not a risk that was reasonably expected to materialize from disclosure. Plaintiffs also contended that, because ICE and CBP had not invoked any FOIA exemptions to withhold the data extracts, defendants were required to disclose them. Defendants’ argument that they lacked the technological capability to produce the extracts could not excuse their obligation to comply with FOIA and disclose non-exempt records.