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The New York Times Co. v. DHS, No. 12 Civ. 8100 (SAS), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83894 (S.D.N.Y. June 13, 2013) (Scheindlin, J.)

Re: List of convicted aliens released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but not deported, since January 1, 2008, due to the 2001 Supreme Court decision Zadvydas v. Davis Disposition: Granting plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
  • Exemption 7(C):  The court concludes that the individuals maintain a "privacy interest, albeit a diminished one, in the information contained" in the requested records.  "[T]here is a difference between the 'practical obscurity' of the existence of public records regarding individuals' prior convictions, and records regarding immigration status, which may be obtained with some effort, and the release of a spreadsheet compiled by ICE containing a variety of information about an individual including criminal convictions, status as an illegal immigrant, some information about that individual's current location, and the fact that he or she has not been deported."  The court then turns to the public interest, stating that "[t]he public has an interest in knowing how ICE handles aliens convicted of crimes who are required to be released pursuant to Zadvydas when their detention period exceeds six months."  Plaintiffs "argue that disclosure of the names of the Released Individuals would permit them to obtain information that 'would shed further light on critical aspects of the government's handling of its removal duties.'"  The court endorses this "derivative use" FOIA public interest and finds that "[p]laintiffs have established that they would use the individual names in combination with other public information to draw conclusions about the performance of DHS – information which the government agency, for whatever reason, is disinclined to disclose on its own."  In balancing the "significantly diminished" privacy interests against the public interest in disclosure, the court concludes that the defendant "has not carried its burden of showing that this diminished privacy interest outweighs the public interest in 'facilitat[ing] an investigation of [defendant's] performance.[']"
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Updated August 6, 2014