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Ghinis v. USCIS, No. 21-554, 2023 WL 2598846 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 22, 2023) (Antoon, J.)


Ghinis v. USCIS, No. 21-554, 2023 WL 2598846 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 22, 2023) (Antoon, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Denying defendant’s motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment

Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court finds that “[defendant’s] declaration . . . is neither ‘relatively detailed’ nor ‘nonconclusory,’ and thus it does not carry the day for USCIS.”  The court relates that “[a]ccording to [defendant]:  ‘. . . staff ran computerized database searches in the [two] databases using the information supplied by the Plaintiffs [sic] with their FOIA request.’”  “[Defendant was] unable to locate [plaintiff’s] A-[F]ile using his name and A number provided.”  “The system showed a notation that the file was lost . . . .”  The court relates that plaintiff provided “a two-page document . . . that was provided to him by USCIS in a prior FOIA response and a letter dated June 17, 1987, written by his father.”  “[Plaintiff] characterizes the [two-page document] ‘as reflecting that the . . . A-File “was last seen at the USCIS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Field Office”’ . . . .”  “And in the 1987 letter – which [plaintiff] characterizes as ‘in [USCIS]’s possession,’ . . . – [plaintiff’s] father stated, ‘[t]o whom it may concern’:  ‘The certificate of Naturalization of my son, . . . were [sic] left in my safe deposit box at the National Security Bank, Brumwick Ave In Trenton[,] N.J. in 1962.’”  “‘According to the bank, they were mailed to the immigration & Naturalization office in Newark, N.J.’”  In light of this information, the court finds that “although ‘[t]here is no requirement that an agency search every record system,’ USCIS, ‘at the very least, . . . was required to explain in its affidavit [why] no other record system was likely to produce responsive documents,’ . . . especially once [plaintiff] presented documents giving reason to believe that the file could be at one or two field offices that the agency did not search.”

Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Updated April 17, 2023