Judge Orders ICE To Release Documents
WASHINGTON - Judge Shira A. Scheindlin has ruled in favor of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law after a hearing requesting an emergency injunction in federal court in NDLON v. ICE, filed on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organization Network (NDLON). The injunction requests information regarding the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Secure Communities” program, specifically, documents related to the voluntary nature of the program, which has been unclear thus far. The Judge expressed shock at the government’s ongoing refusal to release the documents.
“ICE has been withholding key information from the communities it's coercing into its dragnet program,” said NDLON’s Sarahí Uribe. “Judge Scheindlin echoed our demand and told ICE to uncover the truth.”
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit requests files relating to the rapidly expanding deportation program that culls fingerprints from local law enforcement databases after the agency’s continuous misinformation. The groups took ICE to court in litigation for the documents because of what they call. the agency's rejection of transparency,
After the hearing, Judge Scheindlin said, “I’m somewhat confused. The defense agreed to do this back in July and here we are in December. I think the government is dragging its feet....This is serious.”
The Judge set January 17, 2011 as the new date for the government to release the documents or to explain why the documents are being withheld. ICE must release a second set of documents related to other topics in the records request on February 25, 2011. Judge Scheindlin noted several times that the defendants may face contempt sanctions if they fail to produce documents in two upcoming hearings.
Advocates say that though nearly a year has passed since the initial filing and the government has failed to largely meet the requests for information, the program has dramatically expanded, prompting a growing controversy around the secrecy, confusion and misinformation groups say have been spread by the ICE and DHS chain-of-command.