Seeking Records About ICE’s Compliance with DHS’s Enforcement Priorities

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Historically, enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has been the responsibility of the federal executive branch, which may establish enforcement priorities to more efficiently use U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resources. 

The Biden administration issued a memo on January 20, 2021, that outlined the category of individuals it deems priorities for enforcement actions and provided guidance to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as to how and when to use prosecutorial discretion. A second memorandum, issued on February 18, directs ICE to collect data and issue reports on enforcement actions and removals. The second memo also directs ICE officers to request preapproval on enforcement actions against individuals who do not meet the enforcement priorities outlined in the memos.

The American Immigration Council, along with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Mijente Support Committee are filing requests for information about ICE's compliance with data collection and reports on enforcement actions and removals, and preapproval requests on enforcement actions against individuals who do not meet the enforcement priorities.

Access to these records is one way in which the public can ensure ICE complies with its own directives and hold ICE accountable. 

Requesting information on data collection and reports on enforcement actions and removals

Filed on September 9, the FOIA request seeks:

  1. The written reports that the memos directed ICE to create with information identifying weekly enforcement actions. The reports should contain information about whether a subject falls into one of the enforcement priorities, a justification for the action and the location and time of the action.
  2. The written reports that ICE was directed to issue pursuant to the February 18th memorandum should contain information about weekly removals.

Requesting information on enforcement actions against people who don’t meet priorities

Filed on September 23, the FOIA request seeks: 

  1. Records produced by DHS to assist ICE officers follow the preapproval process needed to take enforcement actions against people who fall outside the DHS enforcement guidelines.
  2. Copies of the requests submitted by officers to supervisors for approval to take enforcement actions against individuals who did not meet the new enforcement priorities.
  3. Data kept by ICE relating to these requests.
This FOIA lawsuit seeks to compel DHS and ICE to disclose the weekly reports ICE was required to produce about their enforcement activities and removals pursuant to the DHS’ January 20 and February 18 memos establishing new immigration enforcement priorities.

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