University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-DC-0036
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-02118-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 October 13, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 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 ... read more >
On October 13, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 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 mission, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, in part by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website. Plaintiff was represented by its own counsel and the law firm Covington & Burling.

Plaintiff sought disclosure of agency records by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), that would shed light on government policies and plans to hire new immigration enforcement personnel.

In his Jan. 25, 2017 Executive Order 13767 and Jan. 30, 2017 Executive Order 13768, President Trump directed DHS to hire 5,000 additional CBP agents and 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. In order to meet these targets, plaintiff alleged, defendants intended to relax hiring standards and use independent contractors -- decisions that might "undermine the integrity of CBP and ICE and have negative consequences for border security."

The complaint alleged that on Aug. 4, 2017, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to all four defendant agencies, seeking records related to the agencies' plans for addressing border enforcement and illegal immigration. The request to OPM specifically sought all documents, including communications, memoranda, assessments, and final determinations, related to DHS' requests for hiring authorities addressed in its 90-day progress report on EO 13767.

The complaint further alleged that, to date, plaintiff had not received a substantive response from any of the four defendant agencies. 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.

On Oct. 24, plaintiff filed a notice in another case with the same name, stating that these two cases were related: Protect Democracy Project v. DHS, No. 1:17-cv-02202 (D.D.C. Oct. 24, 2017).

A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2018. This case is ongoing.

Ava Morgenstern - 11/19/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
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. § 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Office of Management and Budget
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
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 Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-DC-0035 : Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.D.C.)
Docket(s)
1:17−cv−02118−RDM (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/16/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint For Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0036-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0036-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Kevin Travers (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0036-0001 | IM-DC-0036-9000
Gore, Nikhil V. (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0036-0001
Saperstein, Jennifer H.
IM-DC-0036-0001
Schwartzol, Laurence Michael (New York)
IM-DC-0036-0001

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