FOIA Request on EOIR Institutional Hearing Program

Monday, April 15, 2019

The American Immigration Council, along with AILA and the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) seeking information relating to the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP). The FOIA seeks information on where the program has been implemented as well as data on rates of representing, types of relief considered, grant/denial rates and mental competency determinations. Additionally, the request seeks the EOIR and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) updated IHP uniform intake policy, referenced in a March 30, 2017 Department of Justice press release. 

The IHP is an extension of the immigration courts, embedded in federal, state, municipal and local prisons and jails. Individuals appear on the IHP docket while serving sentences for criminal offenses. There is very little public information available about how the program is structured or administered. However, it is crucial that EOIR provide information about the program because, among other things, access to counsel is a major concern regarding individuals appearing on the IHP docket. These individuals are often indigent and unrepresented, and in some cases, grapple with mental illnesses, yet their cases can implicate some of the most complex legal questions in immigration removal proceedings. Thus, due process demands that EOIR provide information on where the program operates, as well as statistical data regarding the individuals who appear in these courtrooms, including for example, competency determinations and the grant and denial rates of applications for relief by this population. 

This FOIA lawsuit sought information from the EOIR on the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP), which it runs jointly with ICE and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

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