Detention Watch Network (DWN) v. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

At a Glance

Current Status 

In November 2015, CCR and DWN began briefing partial summary judgment on redactions taken by the defendants under exemption (b)(4), in order to uncover financial information and pricing in detention contracts. Document productions by both ICE and DHS continue on a monthly basis.

Date Filed: 

November 25, 2013

Co-Counsel 

Seton Hall Law Clinic

Client(s) 

Detention Watch Network

Case Description 

In November 2013, the Detention Watch Network (DWN) and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for information and documents pertaining to the so-called "detention bed quota," also known as the "detention bed mandate.” When the agencies failed to comply, CCR filed suit against them. This work is part of  CCR’s support of grassroots immigrants’ rights groups fighting injustice in immigration policing and enforcement, as well as CCR’s long history of work around detention and mass incarceration.

Since 2009, appropriations bills passed by the U.S. Congress have required the funding of 34,000 immigration detention beds per day. DHS and ICE have interpreted this funding provision as a requirement that those beds be filled at all times, through the use of local jails and correctional facilities as well as private, for-profit correctional corporations with enormous lobbying power, resulting in a quota for detainees that has no parallel or precedent in the U.S. criminal justice system.

The public has a right to understand the motives of government officials and agencies regarding this policy that devastates families and immigrant communities. CCR and DWN hope to obtain information that gives the public a better understanding of the detention bed quota, the decision-making surrounding the quota, and its impact on detention policy and detention contracting decisions. This information will enable the public, advocates, and policy-makers to engage in an important on-going policy debate.

Case Timeline

March 4, 2016
CCR files sur-reply brief further opposing government's cross-motion for partial summary judgment
March 4, 2016
CCR files sur-reply brief further opposing government's cross-motion for partial summary judgment
CCR further challenges the government's argument that bed-day rates for private prisons should be redacted. We also argue against ICE's proposition that those prisons' staffing plans should be redacted for law enforcement purposes - especially those staffing plans for medical and social services - as well as taking on the unnecessary scare-mongering contained in the government's declarations.
February 26, 2016
Government files reply brief to CCR's partial summary judgment motion
February 26, 2016
Government files reply brief to CCR's partial summary judgment motion
The government filed their reply brief as well as supplemental declarations, arguing as to why ICE should not have to reveal bed-day rates and staffing plans at privately-run facilities.
January 19, 2016
CCR files reply brief opposing government's cross-motion for partial summary judgment
January 19, 2016
CCR files reply brief opposing government's cross-motion for partial summary judgment
CCR replies to the government's opposition, challenging not only the government's redactions under FOIA exemption (b)(4) that protect certain financial information of private prison companies, but also a new argument from ICE that private prisons' staffing plans should be redacted for law enforcement purposes under FOIA exemption (b)(7)(e).
December 22, 2015

Government files opposition and cross-motion on (b)(4) exemptions, with support of private prison contractors

December 22, 2015

Government files opposition and cross-motion on (b)(4) exemptions, with support of private prison contractors

The government opposes our motion for summary judgment on the b(4) exemption and files its cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that private prison companies do not have to reveal certain financial information and staffing plans because it could cause their business "substantial competitive harm."

November 17, 2015
CCR and DWN file partial summary judgment motion on (b)(4) exemptions taken by government
November 17, 2015
CCR and DWN file partial summary judgment motion on (b)(4) exemptions taken by government
CCR begins briefing on partial summary judgment, specifically challenging parts of documents redacted by the government under the exemption (b)(4), which protects "trade secretes and commercial or financial information."
June 11, 2015
DWN and CCR release "Banking on Detention" report based on FOIA documents
June 11, 2015
DWN and CCR release "Banking on Detention" report based on FOIA documents
Using documents uncovered in our FOIA litigation, Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights release a report exposing the depth of local "lockup quotas" in immigrant detention across 15 facilities in half of ICE’s field offices under the Obama administration.
July 3, 2014
Court issues order regarding pages defendants must review and produce each month
July 3, 2014
Court issues order regarding pages defendants must review and produce each month
Judge Schofield orders the production and review of a set number of documents from each agency per month.
June 18, 2014
CCR and DWN file letter seeking immediate production of documents
June 18, 2014
CCR and DWN file letter seeking immediate production of documents
After the government fails to produce a satisfactory number of documents following the judge's decision, CCR writes to the judge to request a conference and provides a suggested number of documents for the judge to order the government to produce per month.
May 16, 2014
Court issues order denying preliminary injunction and setting document production schedule
May 16, 2014
Court issues order denying preliminary injunction and setting document production schedule
The parties appear before Judge Schofield on May 13, 2014 for oral argument on the motion for preliminary injunction. Three days later, she denies the motion without prejudice and orders the agencies to begin a monthly production of documents.
March 5, 2014
Defendant DHS files motion to dismiss
March 5, 2014
Defendant DHS files motion to dismiss
The government moves to dismiss the claims against defendant DHS. However, after receiving opposing briefs from CCR and DWN, the government withdraws its motion.
February 11, 2014
CCR and DWN file motion for preliminary injunction
February 11, 2014
CCR and DWN file motion for preliminary injunction
Because of the immediate need for the information due to the upcoming appropriations cycle for Fiscal Year 2015, which is expected to officially commence when President Obama submits his annual budget recommendation to Congress in early March, CCR and DWN file for a preliminary injunction to compel immediate production of documents. Briefing takes place over the next few weeks.
January 30, 2014

CCR and DWN file their FOIA complaint in the Southern District of New York (SDNY)

January 30, 2014

CCR and DWN file their FOIA complaint in the Southern District of New York (SDNY)

Having received no documents from ICE or DHS, plaintiffs file suit to demand documents concerning the detention bed quota. The case is assigned to SDNY Judge Lorna Schofield. Defendants file their Answer on March 5, 2014.
November 25, 2013
CCR and DWN file their FOIA request with DHS and ICE
November 25, 2013
CCR and DWN file their FOIA request with DHS and ICE
The FOIA request is filed in anticipation of upcoming Congressional appropriations debates, in hopes of having documents and information that could further influence elected officials and the public to demand an end to the detention bed quota.