Rojas-Vega v. United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA __________________________________________ : DANY ROJAS-VEGA, : : Plaintiff, : : v. : Civil Action No. 16-2291 (ABJ) : UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND : CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, et al., : : Defendants. : _________________________________________ : MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiff Dany Rojas-Vega has brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), see 5 U.S.C. § 552, against United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). 1 The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of ICE and deny plaintiff’s motion. FACTUAL BACKGROUND “Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act . . . the Secretary of Homeland Security is charged with the administration and enforcement of laws relating to the immigration and naturalization of aliens.” Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Defs.’ Mot. for Summ. J. (“Defs.’ 1 Although plaintiff names United States Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) as a defendant in this case, plaintiff does not allege that he submitted a FOIA request to USCIS, and Defendants represent that USCIS did not receive one. See Defs.’ Combined Reply in Support of its Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 26) & Opp’n to Pl.’s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 38) at 1 n.1. Therefore, the Court dismisses USCIS as a party and any claim Plaintiff makes against USCIS. 1 Mem.”), Declaration of Matthew Riley, Acting Deputy FOIA Officer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“Riley Decl.”) ¶ 26. According to the declarations submitted in this case, “ICE is the largest investigative arm of DHS, and . . . is tasked with preventing any activities that threaten national security and public safety by investigating the people, money, and materials [supporting] illegal enterprises.” Riley Decl. ¶ 26. It performs “the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the [former] U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.” Id. ¶ 6. ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) is responsible for “identify[ing], arrest[ing], and remov[ing] aliens who present a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety, as well as those who enter the United States illegally or otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration laws and our border control efforts.” Id. ¶ 7. Among other duties, ERO “transports removable aliens from point to point, manages aliens in custody or in an alternative detention program . . . , and removes individuals from the United States who have been ordered deported.” Id. The ICE FOIA Office processes and responds to any FOIA requests that ICE receives. Id. ¶ 2. Its staff determines which program office within ICE is “reasonably likely to possess records responsive to [each] request[,] if any[,] and to initiate [a] search[] in [that] program office[].” Id. ¶ 5. FOIA Office staff then forwards the request to the appropriate program office’s designated point of contact (“POC”), the person primarily “responsible for communications between that program office and the ICE ...

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