Judicial Watch Sues DOJ for Records Detailing Government Pilot Program Testing the Dismissal of Immigration Charges against Illegal Aliens
by JUDICIAL WATCH
July 11, 2012
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on June 11, 2012 against the Obama Department of Justice seeking records pertaining to a six-week pilot program designed to test the Obama administration's new standards for the dismissal of immigration charges against certain illegal aliens. The Obama administration tested this program first in the cities of Baltimore, Maryland and Denver, Colorado beginning on December 4, 2011.
Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its original November 23, 2011 FOIA request to the Executive Office of Immigration Review ("EOIR"), a component of the Justice Department:
i. Any and all records regarding, concerning or related to the six-week pilot program in Baltimore and Denver that is scheduled to begin on December 4, 2011 and under which the immigration-related charges against certain undocumented residents may be subject to dismissal. This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all policy guidelines, implementation plans, training materials, and directives regarding the pilot program.
ii. Any and all records of communication between any official, employee or representative of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and any official, employee or representative of any other government agency, office or department (including, but not limited to, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Executive Office of the President, the City of Baltimore, and the City of Denver) regarding concerning or related to the pilot program.
The Justice Department acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch's FOIA request on November 28, 2011 and was required by law to respond by January 11, 2012 at the latest. As of the date of Judicial Watch's lawsuit, the Obama administration has failed to turn over any records responsive to the request, indicate which records are exempt from disclosure, or notify Judicial Watch when a response is forthcoming.
On June 30, 2010, John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent a memo to all ICE employees instructing local immigration officials to use their discretion in "prioritizing" illegal immigration deportation cases. On June 17, 2011, John Morton followed up with another memo to all field officers, special agents and to the chief counsel further defining the term "prosecutorial discretion," which, in essence, asked immigration officials to focus deportation proceedings on illegal aliens convicted of crimes. However, Judicial Watch uncovered documents proving immigration officials considered suspending the deportation of illegal aliens convicted of violent crimes.