ACLU Joins Faith, Peace Groups in Filing File FOIA Request for Information on Northern Arizona Immigration Raids

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
February 3, 2009 12:00 am

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PHOENIX – In light of reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials cooperated with local law enforcement agencies in Northern Arizona to violate the due process rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today joined with the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council and the Flagstaff New Day Peace Center in filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about immigration raids that took place in Flagstaff, Sedona and Prescott Valley in November.

“There is no monitoring of these raids by ICE and their agents, along with Sheriffs’ deputies and local police officers, routinely violate constitutional rights in carrying them out,” said Daniel Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Today’s request is an effort to shine a light on the devastating human toll of immigration raids and to gather specific information about profoundly serious violations of rights to both immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.”

The ACLU’s FOIA request seeks information about incidents in November 2008 when ICE led an interagency task force to apprehend “criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators.” According to the ACLU, there have been reports that ICE, sometimes in cooperation with state or local law enforcement, illegally entered and searched homes and workplaces. “If true, these reports could undermine trust toward law enforcement authorities and jeopardize public safety in immigrant communities,” added Pochoda in his records request on behalf of the ACLU.

In today’s FOIA filing, the ACLU asked for detailed information about:

  • Those arrested and the number of residences entered with or without court warrants;
  • Policies regarding the treatment of minors encountered and methods for contacting members of the public in the vicinity of the raid locations;
  • Policies for determining locations for enforcement actions; and
  • Methods for entering residences and workplaces.

Today’s information request comes on the heels of a presidential memorandum – dated January 21, 2009 – directing government agencies to comply swiftly and thoroughly with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The memorandum, which urges agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure … and to usher in a new era of open government,” reverses the Ashcroft Doctrine put in place by the Bush administration instructing agencies to withhold information whenever there is a ‘sound legal basis.’

“The Freedom of Information Act is a powerful tool not just for reporters and advocacy organizations, but for all Americans,” said ACLU of Arizona Racial Justice Fellow Annie Lai. “Today’s request will test whether the announced commitment to transparency and open government by the new administration will be implemented.” The ACLU has asked for expedited processing of the request within ten calendar days. The text of the FOIA request can be found online at: www.acluaz.org.

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