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

At a Glance

Current Status 

On July 3, 2014 the Court issued a new Order regarding the number of pages ICE and DHS must review and produce on a monthly basis going forward.

Date Filed: 

November 25, 2013

Co-Counsel 

Seton Hall Law Clinic

Client 

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 American 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

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.
February 11, 2014
CCR and DWN file a Motion for Preliminary Injunction
February 11, 2014
CCR and DWN file a 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, plaintiffs file for a preliminary injunction to compel immediate production of documents. Briefing takesplace 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.
June 18, 2014
Plaintiffs file Letter Seeking Immediate Production of Documents
June 18, 2014
Plaintiffs 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 produced 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 to plaintiffs.
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 plaintiffs, the government withdraws its motion.