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Time-Wasting by Feds Won’t Kill FOIA Action

(CN) - Two government agencies "have wasted their own time" in trying to skirt a demand for immigration-enforcement records without following court orders, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The American Immigration Council filed the Freedom of Information Act request at the heart of this lawsuit in 2011, "seeking information about individuals' access to counsel during their interactions with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement," according to the 30-page opinion in Washington.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg chided the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE back in 2012 for an inadequate response and found their production still insufficient Wednesday.

"Remarkably, despite the many hours that defendants have apparently invested in responding to AIC's FOIA request, they have still not followed the court's instructions on this point," Boasberg wrote.

Finding that the agencies have "once again" failed "to establish that they searched all the ICE program offices likely to maintain records responsive to AIC's FOIA request," the judge granted them summary judgment only as to their redaction of 11 documents that they included in a Vaughn index. The Freedom of Information Act requires such filings, which take their name form the 1973 case Vaughn v. Rosen, to spell out redacted and withheld information.

Boasberg denied the agencies summary judgment with regard to their insufficient search and the failure of the defendants to include a 12th withheld document in that index.

"The reality is that defendants have wasted their own time by neglecting to follow the court's clear instructions, set out in its prior opinion, about what they must do to prevail in this matter," he wrote.

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