FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2018
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375
NILC Files FOIA Asking 16 Government Agencies to Reveal How They Plan to Reunify Families
LOS ANGELES — In response to the dearth of information provided by the Trump administration, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding that the federal government provide information about its plans for reuniting families separated at the border. As part of the FOIA, NILC asks for locations, numbers, guidelines, and about any training or policy that sheds light on what each of the agencies named in the FOIA is doing to address these issues, given the harm separated families are suffering.
“The Trump administration created a major humanitarian crisis by separating children from their parents at the border under its ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, and the president’s executive order does nothing to address the immeasurable damage it has inflicted on immigrant families,” said Nora Preciado, a NILC senior staff attorney. “Since the Trump administration has failed to provide a clear plan, we are deeply concerned that children are being lost in the system. It is absolutely unacceptable that there is no indication that government agencies are working on a plan to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children who were separated from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy.”
The FOIA was filed amid disturbing reports of immigrants being coerced into foregoing the asylum process in order to be reunited and deported with their children. These reports are eerily reminiscent of the U.S. government’s treatment of Salvadorans who sought asylum during the 1980s, when the National Immigration Law Center first sued the government to protect the rights of Salvadoran asylees.
“Our Constitution protects everyone against the inhumane treatment we are witnessing along the border,” said Mayra Joachin, NILC staff attorney. “The federal government has a responsibility to abide by the Constitution. We’re filing our FOIA today to find out what, if anything, the government has done to uphold the laws its officials are sworn to defend.”
The executive order the president signed last week does not clearly address how the government plans to provide a solution for the parents and children who remain detained separately, many without access to legal counsel. The agencies from which this FOIA requests information include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Navy (which is in charge of securing space at military bases), the secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice, and others.
The FOIA request filed today is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FOIA-Request-re-Family-Separation-2018-06-25.pdf.