University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Buzzfeed Inc. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement et. al. IM-DC-0048
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01501-KBJ ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Attorney Organization Loevy & Loevy
Case Summary
On June 25, 2018, Buzzfeed brought this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The plaintiff sought to shed light on ICE’s use and review of solitary confinement for ... read more >
On June 25, 2018, Buzzfeed brought this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The plaintiff sought to shed light on ICE’s use and review of solitary confinement for individuals in its custody, citing ICE policy which requires additional oversight of decisions to hold detainees in segregation for over 14 days. Earlier, in October 2017, ICE approved the plaintiff’s expedited processing for its FOIA request filed in September 2017. Over the next several months, ICE failed to produce any documents or provide a future date for their production as required by law. In March 2018, Buzzfeed filed an administrative appeal to DHS regarding ICE’s failure to produce documents within a reasonable time frame. In April 2018, DHS responded that the request was pending but declined to provide an estimated document production date. This suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and assigned to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The plaintiffs sought written notices sent to ICE field office directors documenting instances when an ICE detainee was held continuously in segregation for over 14 days, as well as reviews of those notices which were to be completed every 14 days per ICE policy. The complaint noted that, according to UN experts, holding individuals in solitary confinement for over 15 days may constitute torture and lead to irreversible psychological damage.

On August 2, 2018, the defendants filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint admitting that it had not produced any documents in response to the FOIA request. On September 19, 2018, the defendants informed the court that it had identified over 8,100 documents responsive to the request and proposed a processing and production schedule of 400 pages per month to be completed in May 2020. The plaintiff objected to ICE's proposed completion date as it was 3 years past the date the request was made and proposed a 90 day schedule to the court.

On October 4, 2018, Judge Jackson ordered ICE to file a supplemental declaration with the court explaining its FOIA-processing capacity and the reason for delay in this case.

The case is ongoing.

Veronica Portillo Heap - 10/04/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Immigration/Border
Detention - conditions
Plaintiff Type
Public (for-profit) corporation
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description Buzzfeed, Inc., an American internet media and news company.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Loevy & Loevy
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:18-cv-1501 (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0048-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0048-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Jackson, Ketanji Brown (D.D.C.)
IM-DC-0048-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Schafer, Matthew (New York)
IM-DC-0048-0001 | IM-DC-0048-9000
Topic, Matthew Vincent (Illinois)
IM-DC-0048-0001 | IM-DC-0048-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hendry, Melanie Dyani (District of Columbia)
IM-DC-0048-9000

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