Skip to main content

Long v. DHS, No. 14-807, 2015 WL 3961312 (D.D.C. June 29, 2015) (Cooper, J.)


Long v. DHS, No. 14-807, 2015 WL 3961312 (D.D.C. June 29, 2015) (Cooper, J.)

Re: Request for all data from three large databases maintained by ICE and broader electronic data maintained by USCBP

Disposition: Granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment; denying defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Fees, Requester Categories:  The court holds that plaintiffs' "adequately justified their request for both educational and news media status."  First, the court finds that defendant "improperly denied [plaintiffs'] request for educational requester status."  "[T]he Court finds that Plaintiffs met their burden to establish that their request was authorized by and under the auspices of Syracuse University."  The court explains that "nothing in the FOIA statute or its implementing regulations limits the definition of 'educational institution' to an entity with only one location or funding source."  "Nor does the existence of [plaintiffs'] other locations or funding sources demonstrate that [plaintiffs'] connection to Syracuse University is somehow contrived."  "Plaintiffs are professors who made the request for records for use in their research at a university research center."  "They were therefore entitled to a presumption of educational status."  Additionally, the court finds that "ICE has offered nothing to suggest that [plaintiffs] [have] altered [their] research methodology since the agency last granted [them] preferred requester status."  "As a result, ICE erred in concluding that Plaintiffs did not demonstrate an intended scholarly use for the requested records."  Finally, the court finds that "[plaintiffs'] subscription service does not disqualify [them] from educational requester status so long as the request is being made to further [plaintiffs'] scholarly mission and not principally to enable it to sell the raw data to third parties."  "Plaintiffs adequately demonstrated a lack of commercial interest in the requested data and ICE improperly denied their request for educational requester status on that basis."

Second, the court finds that "[p]laintiffs' uncontested representations that they intend and have the ability to disseminate new research to the public were sufficient to meet the definition of representatives of the news media."  The court specifically addresses defendant's counter arguments and, in response, finds that "[i]ncorporating information from a range of sources . . . is not essential for news media status[,]" "information about enforcement of our immigration laws would be of interest to the public," plaintiffs will "transform[] large amounts of data [they] receive[] from the government into distinct works" because "[they] [have] published immigration reports and bulletins accessed by millions of people, and Plaintiffs stated to the agency that [they] will continue to do so in the future[,]" and "[t]he Department cites no support for ICE's refusal to grant preferred status based on its subjective assessment of [plaintiffs'] editorial skill."

  • Litigation Considerations, Relief:  "The Court . . . declines to issue a declaratory judgment" stating "that [plaintiffs] [are] entitled to both educational and news media status for all future requests" because "[a]gencies must make an independent fee status determination for each request."


Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Fees and Fee Waivers
Litigation Considerations, Relief
Updated January 12, 2022