University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Brown v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection IM-CA-0081
Docket / Court 3:15-cv-01181-JD ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Case Summary
On March 12, 2015, five immigration attorneys and thirteen noncitizen individuals filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Represented by Stacy ... read more >
On March 12, 2015, five immigration attorneys and thirteen noncitizen individuals filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Represented by Stacy Tolchin, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the American Immigration Council, plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. They claimed that CBP had failed to timely respond to their or their clients' FOIA requests, in violation of FOIA's statutory requirement for government agencies to respond to requests within 20 business days. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that CBP had a systemic pattern and practice of such delays. The plaintiffs had been waiting for CBP’s response to their FOIA requests for at least seven months and most for more than a year. These delays had, in turn, prevented them from filing for immigration status.

On September 17, 2015, Judge James Donato denied CBP’s Motion to Dismiss, stating that "CBP’s records [as available through FOIA] are critical to noncitizens and their attorneys in evaluating immigration options and the possibility of remaining legally in the United States." 132 F. Supp. 3d 1170 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2015).

The parties settled, and Judge Donato granted their joint motion to dismiss on September 3, 2016. On September 8, 2016, the parties signed the settlement agreement. During the litigation, CBP had made significant progress in clearing its FOIA backlog from over 30,000 cases to just over 3,000, and had responded to all plaintiffs' requests. The parties agreed that CBP would post its monthly FOIA statistics on its website for three years, and that CBP would pay plaintiffs' attorney fees. The settlement agreement did not explicitly state that it was court-enforceable.

Ava Morgenstern - 01/22/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Government Services (specify)
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Wait lists
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Plaintiff Description Immigration attorneys and individuals who claimed that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had a nationwide pattern and practice of failing to timely respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Indexed Lawyer Organizations American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2016 - 2019
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Brown v. CBP: CBP FOIA Processing Delays
www.nationalimmigrationproject.org
Date: Sep. 8, 2016
By: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:15-cv-01181-JD (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0081-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Under the Freedom of Information Act [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0081-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Under the Freedom of Information Act [ECF# 22]
IM-CA-0081-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 50] (132 F.Supp.3d 1170) (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0081-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement
IM-CA-0081-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/08/2016
Joint Stipulation of Dismissal and Order [ECF# 66] (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0081-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Corley, Jacqueline Scott (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
IM-CA-0081-9000
Donato, James (N.D. Cal.)
IM-CA-0081-0003 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Matthew (Washington)
IM-CA-0081-0001 | IM-CA-0081-0002 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Crow, Melissa E. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0081-0001 | IM-CA-0081-0002 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Kenney, Mary (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0081-0001 | IM-CA-0081-0002 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Realmuto, Trina (Massachusetts)
IM-CA-0081-0001 | IM-CA-0081-0002 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Tolchin, Stacy Eva (California)
IM-CA-0081-0001 | IM-CA-0081-0002 | IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mizer, Benjamin C. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005
Nestler, Emily B. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005 | IM-CA-0081-9000
Shapiro, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia)
IM-CA-0081-0004 | IM-CA-0081-0005

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