Parker v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA LONNIE J. PARKER, : : Plaintiff, : Civil Action No.: 15-1253 (RC) : v. : Re Document No.: 35, 37 : U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS : ENFORCEMENT, : : Defendant. : MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT’S RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT I. INTRODUCTION Plaintiff Lonnie Parker challenges the response of Defendant U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to his Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request, which seeks records in ICE’s possession related to the agency’s previous criminal investigation of him. Following the parties’ first round of motions for summary judgment, the Court granted in part and denied in part ICE’s motion, affirming ICE’s decision to withhold portions of certain responsive records under FOIA Exemption 7, but requesting additional detail regarding ICE’s search for responsive records. With its renewed motion for summary judgment, ICE argues that it has sufficiently demonstrated, through a new set of declarations, that it performed an adequate search designed to recover all records responsive to Mr. Parker’s request. In his own renewed motion, Mr. Parker once again disagrees. And once again, this Court finds some portions of ICE’s search adequate and sufficiently explained, and other portions inadequate or insufficiently explained. Therefore, this Court grants in part and denies in part both parties’ renewed motions for summary judgment. II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND In early 2014, Mr. Parker filed a FOIA request with ICE seeking: All records from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office in Little Rock Arkansas [sic], listing my client’s name (Lonnie Joseph Parker), or otherwise describing or discussing my client (Mr. Parker), that were created or generated from January 1, 1998 to January 31, 2006, currently located in any system of records in the possession or control of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (including any archived or stored records), in any form or format, including any hand- written notes, diagrams, emails, phone logs, photographs, maps, diagrams, spread sheets, or any other forms of records responsive to this records request. FOIA Request, Ex. 1 at 1, ECF No. 17-3. Upon receipt of Mr. Parker’s FOIA Request, ICE identified the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) as the locations most likely to have all responsive records. Decl. Fernando Pineiro (“Pineiro Decl.”) ¶ 23, ECF No. 18. ERO searched its Central Index System database, but was unable to find any responsive records. Pineiro Decl. ¶ 27. HSI searched its TECS system using Mr. Parker’s name and located sixty pages of responsive records, which it released to Mr. Parker after withholding some portions of the records pursuant to FOIA Exemptions 6 and 7. Pineiro Decl. ¶¶ 7, 28, 30. Mr. Parker filed suit in this Court thereafter. See Compl., ECF No. 1. After this suit began, “HSI determined that . . . additional responsive hard file records” might exist at ICE’s ...

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