University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Knight First Amendment Institute v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-NY-0057
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-07572 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Case Summary
This suit, filed October 4, 2017, sought to compel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) to release certain records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiff - a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting freedom of speech and press - ... read more >
This suit, filed October 4, 2017, sought to compel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) to release certain records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiff - a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting freedom of speech and press - sought "records concerning the exclusion or removal of individuals from the United States based on their speech, beliefs, or associations." The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The plaintiff is the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It argued that pursuant to President Trump's immigration policies, DHS and DOS created new policies with which to vet visa applicants and refugees. In particular, the Knight Institute pointed to the development of a questionnaire that asked for "any social media platforms and handles used during the last five years," as well as a new policy proposal slated to go into effect October 18, 2017 to have DHS' immigration records "include the 'social media handles, aliases, [and] associated identifiable information,' as well as 'publicly available information obtained from the internet,...and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements.'" The Knight Instituted argued that these changes would have an expansive affect, reaching visa applicants, naturalized U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents.

The Knight Institute submitted a FOIA request to DHS and DOS seeking information on these new vetting policies as well as the government's rationale that it can "base immigration decisions on individuals’ speech, beliefs, or associations." ICE released only one document in response to this request, prompting the plaintiff to bring this suit.

The case was assigned to Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. on Oct. 5.

On Dec. 28, 2017, the government filed a letter seeking to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the Knight Institute had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. On Jan. 16, the parties filed stipulation of voluntary dismissal as to ICE. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on Mar. 14, 2018.

On May 18, 2018, the court (Judge Carter) ordered DOS to complete processing and producing responsive records by June 28, 2018.

The case is ongoing.

Virginia Weeks - 10/05/2017
Virginia Weeks - 05/22/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
General
Record-keeping
Immigration/Border
Constitutional rights
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Department of State
Plaintiff Description Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-7572 (S.D.N.Y.)
IM-NY-0057-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-NY-0057-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Injunctive Relief [ECF# 42]
IM-NY-0057-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/14/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Carter, Andrew Lamar Jr. (E.D.N.Y., S.D.N.Y.)
IM-NY-0057-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
IM-NY-0057-0002
Crump, Catherine Newby (California)
IM-NY-0057-0002 | IM-NY-0057-9000
DeCell, Caroline M. (New York)
IM-NY-0057-0001 | IM-NY-0057-0002
Graham, Megan Kathleen (California)
IM-NY-0057-0002 | IM-NY-0057-9000
Jaffer, Jameel (New York)
IM-NY-0057-0002 | IM-NY-0057-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blain, Jennifer Ellen (New York)
IM-NY-0057-9000

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