Public oversight of ICE detention is about to become even harder, further eroding accountability and endangering the health and safety of more than 50,000 people in ICE custody every day. That’s because the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently gave a green light to ICE to destroy numerous types of records — including detention and civil rights complaint records from the first year of the Trump administration.
Today, the ACLU is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain records at serious risk of destruction so that they may be preserved on behalf of the public. The American Immigration Council, National Immigrant Justice Center, and the National Immigration Law Center are filing nearly identical FOIA requests as well. Our shared purpose reflects a pillar of government accountability: Government agencies should not be allowed to destroy the paper trail of their incompetence and wrongdoing.
Specifically, we are seeking detention-related records from ICE that are scheduled to be deleted after short retention periods of only three to seven years. These records cover a wide range of ICE operations and activities, including ICE’s own on-site monitoring of detention facilities, the placement of detainees in solitary confinement, and complaints reported to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Alarmingly, the weekly monitoring reports of detention facilities — the same places infamous for their dehumanizing, grossly inadequate, and dangerous conditions — could already be on the chopping block if they date to the earliest days of the Trump administration’s brutal anti-immigrant agenda.
Read the Complete ACLU Statement