Lawsuit Challenges Systemic USCIS and ICE FOIA Delays

Lawsuit Challenges Systemic USCIS and ICE FOIA Delays

Nightingale et al. v. USCIS et al., 3:19-cv-03512

STATUS:
Pending

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), individuals must receive a determination on requests for information within a maximum of 30 days. However, individuals and attorneys who file FOIAs with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for copies of immigration files, or “A-Files”, routinely face waiting times well over 30 days ⁠— in some cases, the wait can be months.

Further, USCIS exacerbates delays by often referring requests to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to handle responsive FOIA documents in ICE’s possession. As a result, USCIS and ICE have substantial FOIA backlogs and individuals live in legal limbo, enduring emotional and financial hardship as they grapple with how ⁠— or whether ⁠— to proceed with an immigration benefit or defense.

To challenge these systemic violations and the harm they cause, the American Immigration Council Council and its partners, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, have filed a nationwide class action in federal district court. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS, and ICE routinely violate the FOIA statute and fail to allocate enough resources to reduce backlogs and provide timely determinations on FOIA requests.

In the motion filed on August 8, 2019, plaintiffs are asking the court to certified the following two classes: 

USCIS Class: All individuals who filed, or will file, A-File FOIA requests with USCIS which have been pending, or will be pending, with USCIS for more than 30 business days without a determination. 

ICE Referral Class: All individuals who filed, or will file, A-File FOIA requests with USCIS that USCIS has referred, or will refer, to ICE and which have been pending, or will be pending, for more than 30 business days from the date of the initial filing with USCIS without a determination.

On October 15, 2019, the court certified the classes. 

Follow this case:

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending