|(19 May 2014)
The co-directors of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University have filed suit charging ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with multiple violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Administrative Practices Act and the administrative rules of both agencies.
The suit challenges ICE's recent decision that when TRAC's co-directors were seeking data on how the agency was enforcing immigration laws, they were not acting on behalf of an educational institution operating a program of scholarly research, nor were they acting as representatives of the news media seeking to inform the public about agency activities. Instead the agency claims they were seeking records to further a commercial trade for profit.
For more than 25 years, Long and Burnham as co-directors of TRAC -- a part of Syracuse University -- have provided news organizations, academic groups, Congress and the government itself with reports and data about a wide range of long-hidden government activities. TRAC maintains a website at http://trac.syr.edu/immigration where the results of its research and reporting on immigration enforcement are made widely and publicly available. Neither TRAC nor its co-directors have ever sought ICE records for a commercial purpose. TRAC's co-directors derive no personal income from their immigration research and reporting apart from their regular salary as Syracuse University professors.
By incorrectly categorizing TRAC as "commercial" the government erects a major cost hurdle, blocking the public dissemination of records that are required by the FOIA and other laws to be made public. The FOIA mandates that educational and media requesters can only be charged duplication fees. However, when records are being sought for a commercial profit-making purpose, then the requester can also be required to pay for the time taken to search for the records and review them, in addition to copying fees.
TRAC is represented in this action on a pro bono basis by David L. Sobel.
For more details on this matter, including the complaint document, see:
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