ACLU Demands Info on Detentions Linked to Felonies

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The ACLU sued the United States for information on detention of legal immigrants who faced deportation for committing aggravated felonies.
     The ACLU’s Southern California chapter filed the federal FOIA complaint against the Department of Justice, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
     The ACLU asked the EOIR for the information on March 15, 2012, and the agency has not responded.
     The ACLU says it wants to clarify the Office of the Solicitor General’s representations in the U.S. Supreme Court case Demore vs. Kim. In that case, the agency discussed how long it takes immigration judges to complete removal proceedings against immigrants charged with aggravated felonies.
     In 85 percent of cases, it takes the federal government an average of 47 days to reach a final order of removal, Uncle Sam told the Supreme Court. In the other 15 percent it takes an average of four months.
     The Supreme Court relied on those figures in its 5-4 ruling in April 2003, upholding the constitutionality of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, the ACLU says.
     The law as amended allows mandatory detention of legal immigrants while they challenge deportation.
     When enacted in 1988, the law applied to drug-trafficking crimes or charges involving firearms. It was expanded in 1996 to include more aggravated felonies.
     The ACLU says it’s been waiting for more than a year since it asked for records to back up the data the federal government presented to the Supreme Court.
     The EOIR and the Solicitor General said the ACLU’s request presented “unusual circumstances,” and would take 30 days to process, instead of the usual 20 days, the complaint states.
     “Defendants have provided no further response as of the date of filing of this complaint. They have failed to respond to the request by their own extended deadlines, which were over 11 months ago, or the statutory deadline for responding to a FOIA request,” the ACLU says.
     It claims it lodged an administrative appeal with the Office of Information Policy in April but “received no further response or correspondence” from the agency.
     “No records have been provided by defendants, and defendants have not indicated that they have begun searching for or processing responsive records,” the ACLU says.
     The ACLU wants to see the data, and it wants fees waived because disclosure of the records is in the public interest.
     The ACLU is represented by Susan Azad of Latham & Watkins.
     Neither the ACLU nor the Department of Justice immediately responded to requests for comment.

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