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Am. Immigration Council v. DHS, No. 11-1972, 2014 WL 1118353 (D.D.C. Mar. 21, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)


Am. Immigration Council v. DHS, No. 11-1972, 2014 WL 1118353 (D.D.C. Mar. 21, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning individuals' access to counsel during interactions with federal immigration authorities

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Considerations, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court "is satisfied that the redacted information is not responsive to [plaintiff's] FOIA request, and it will grant Defendants summary judgment on Record No. 1."  The court explains that is "has reviewed the contested pages in camera."
  • Exemption 7:  The court "finds that Documents 2, 3, 4, and 5 were created for law-enforcement purposes."  The court explains that "[t]he Government argues, and the Court agrees, that each of the withheld records has a rational nexus to the agency's law-enforcement duties, including the prevention of terrorism and unlawful immigration."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court "concludes that Defendants properly redacted Documents 2, 3, 4, and 5 under FOIA Exemption 7(E)."  The court finds that the withheld material does consist of guidelines, techniques and procedures, and that "[t]o describe these techniques in greater detail here would risk disclosing them—'the very harm Exemption 7(E) seeks to prevent.'"  Additionally, the court finds that "the treatment of suspects—what rights they are afforded, how they are interrogated, how long and in what conditions they are detained—would appear to go to the heart of law-enforcement 'investigations' and 'prosecutions.'"  Finally, the court finds that "descriptions of the documents in question, along with the Court's in camera review, convinces the Court that these records do contain information of which the public is not generally aware."
  • Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege:  The court "finds that Defendants properly redacted Document 6 under the deliberative-process privilege."  The court notes that "[d]efendants invoke [the deliberative-process privilege, the attorney-client privilege, and the attorney work-product privilege], but because the Court concludes that the deliberative-process privilege justifies withholding Document 6, it need not entertain arguments regarding the others."  The court finds that a withheld e-mail was predecisional and explains that "[t]he error in [plaintiff's] logic is no fault of Plaintiff's, as only a later e-mail in the [e-mail] chain—redacted in the document produced to Plaintiff but available to the Court for in camera review—makes it clear that a final response to Headquarters, distinct from the response outlined in the challenged e-mail, was ultimately created."  Therefore, the court finds that its "in camera review has convinced it that the challenged redactions are not part of the agency's 'final version.'"
  • Procedural Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Obligation:  The court finds that "[a]lthough the Court is inclined to side with the Government on that question, it need not delve too deeply, as its own in camera review of the materials suffices to persuade it that there are no segregability problems in this case."  The court also explains to plaintiff that "that some of the redactions cover information that CBP has released elsewhere does not, on its own, call the Government's redactions into question."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 5
Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(E)
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Procedural Requirements, “Reasonably Segregable” Obligation
Updated January 28, 2022