University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-DC-0035
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-02202-RDM ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Case Summary
On Oct. 24, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. According to the complaint, plaintiff is a nonprofit organization with a "mission is to protect our democracy from descending into ... read more >
On Oct. 24, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. According to the complaint, plaintiff is a nonprofit organization with a "mission is to protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving Americans of a free, fair, and fully-informed opportunity to exercise ultimate sovereignty." As part of its activities, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, including by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website. The law firm Covington & Burling represented plaintiff in this case.

Plaintiff sought disclosure of agency records by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that would shed light on the extent to which defendants cooperated with armed private militia groups along the U.S.-Mexico border. In his Jan. 25, 2017 Executive Order 13767, President Trump directed DHS to hire 5,000 additional CBP agents. According to plaintiff, public reports suggest that CBP agents may be informally working with unaffiliated militia groups to police the border.

The complaint alleged that on Aug. 3, 2017, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to DHS seeking copies of records related to the following:
1. DHS's interactions and involvement with unaffiliated border enforcement groups, including all communications between CBP field officers and any other component of DHS relating to such groups, and all communications between any DHS employee and any representative of such group;
2. CBP's interactions and involvement with such groups at the Sectors of Big Bend, Del Rio, Laredo, and Rio Grande Valley, TX; Tuscon and Yuma, AZ; and El Centro and San Diego, CA.

The complaint further alleged that, to date, plaintiff had not received a substantive response from DHS or CBP. Plaintiff sought an expedited disclosure order under FOIA and sought legal fees.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was assigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss.

Also on Oct. 24, plaintiff filed a notice that this case was related to another with the same name, Protect Democracy Project v. DHS, No. 1:17-cv-02118 (D.D.C. Oct. 13, 2017).

A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2019. This case is ongoing.

Ava Morgenstern - 12/16/2017


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
General
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Immigration/Border
Border police
Border wall
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description A nonprofit organization seeking disclosure of executive branch records for public information
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-DC-0036 : Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.D.C.)
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-02202-RDM (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0035-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0035-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0035-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Kevin Travers (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0035-0001 | IM-DC-0035-9000
Gore, Nikhil V. (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0035-0001
Saperstein, Jennifer H.
IM-DC-0035-0001
Schwartztol, Laurence Michael (New York)
IM-DC-0035-0001

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -