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Speeding up the Processing of FOIA Requests at ICE: Send Blank CDs

by FOIA Project Staff on September 22nd, 2017

The FOIA operations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement are clearly troubled, as the following all too common scenario shows:

At long last, the envelope from ICE’s FOIA office arrives, to a request made months ago. Opening the envelope, the letter inside from ICE FOIA Officer Catrina M. Pavlik-Keenan states: “A search .. for records responsive to your request produced 1-Excel Spreadsheet.”

We slip the CD into the computer to examine the records we received. But there is nothing on the disk. While the CD has a label with the correct FOIA tracking number ICE assigned to the request, nothing has been recorded on the CD. It’s totally blank.

Has anyone else had this experience? Despite receiving FOIA responses from dozens of federal agencies, the blank CD problem seems to occur most often with responses TRAC receives from ICE. For example, this week on Wednesday we received an envelope from ICE. Instead of the records we had sought, there was only a blank CD accompanying the response letter. Three additional envelopes also arrived this week from ICE’s FOIA office. Each ostensibly contained the agency’s response to different long pending requests – at least that is what the FOIA Officer’s response letters stated was the case. But in each response letter the accompanying CD was blank.

That is certainly one way to speed up the closure of FOIA requests. Send blank CDs instead of the actual records requested.

This should not be surprising. After all, it is September. As ICE’s own records reveal, each year when September rolls around there is a sudden rush to close out long stalled requests that have been sitting unanswered—timed to beat the deadline for filing the agency’s annual report.

Apparently, one way to close out cases in a hurry is to send requesters blank CD’s instead of the requested records.

From → ICE, Immigration, Reports

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