ADC Files Lawsuit Against DHS and ICE Concerning the "October Plan"
Washington, DC | October 17, 2006 | Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The lawsuit, which ADC filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeks information that would either validate or dispel the widespread perception that DHS and ICE have been misusing information from the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to impermissibly target, or "profile," Arab-Americans and Muslims for general law enforcement purposes. In particular, this lawsuit demands the immediate disclosure of government records concerning the national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, and gender of the more than 230 individuals detained by the government in connection with a law enforcement operation known as the "October Plan," which federal law enforcement officials carried out in connection with the 2004 Presidential Elections. Community concerns about the potential for similar law enforcement activities during the upcoming national elections prompted ADC to file this suit today.
Click on the following links to read the accompanying exhibits:
Exhibit 1: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_1.pdf
Exhibit 2: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_2.pdf
Exhibit 3: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_3.pdf
Exhibit 4: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_4.pdf
Exhibit 5: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_5.pdf
Exhibit 6: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_6.pdf
Exhibit 7: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_7.pdf
Exhibit 8: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Exhibit_8.pdf
ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, "We do not enter into this litigation lightly, but took this step only after two years of repeatedly attempting unsuccessfully to obtain this information through meetings with DHS and ICE officials and filing FOIA requests." Oakar continued, "Furthermore, as the 'October Plan' was conducted during the national elections in 2004, ADC is concerned about the use and impact of NSEERS information in the upcoming elections."
ADC's lawsuit asks the court to compel DHS to provide information on the national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender of those arrested during the 2004 Presidential Election "'October Plan."' Represented by Kirkland & Ellis attorneys Tefft W. Smith and Michael D. Shumsky, ADC will pursue this matter until the concerns raised by this litigation are addressed in a constructive fashion and to the best interest of all involved parties.
ADC Requests Nationality Breakdown Used in October Plan Arrests
On November 4, 2004, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued a press release entitled "ICE Threat Disruption Effort Results in More than 230 Arrests." Due to community concerns that DHS and ICE had used NSEERS data in connection with what the media was calling the "October Plan," ADC requested a nationality breakdown of those arrested by ICE. Indeed, in an earlier statement by ICE, issued on September 30, 2004, the agency had explained that it had utilized three databases (NSEERS, SEVIS, and US VISIT) to reprioritize its leads.
December 14, 2004
ADC Files Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Read the request at: http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoICE.doc
ADC was, and continues to be, concerned that the Arab, South Asian, and Muslim populations have been disproportionately impacted because of the use of the NSEERS database in this and other general law enforcement efforts. Therefore, on December 14, 2004, ADC filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) in order to gain access to data on the nationalities of those arrested, and determine the percentage of Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims who were affected. ADC did not request the names or individual information of any of the persons who had been arrested. Furthermore, ADC did not ask for any information regarding the DHS employees involved in the investigation, or information regarding any law enforcement techniques, sources, methods, or procedures used by DHS or other agencies in connection with the arrests.
ADC's request was intended to assure the Arab-American, South Asian, and Muslim communities, along with the rest of our nation, that ICE was not conducting a "round-up" or "sweep" in any community, and that it was acting consistently with its pledge not to partake in racial, national origin or religious profiling. Such assurances would have been especially important during a national election. Unfortunately, and despite the fact that it had previously released some of that very data in its November 4, 2004 press release, ICE and DHS denied ADC's request to release the full nationality breakdown of those arrested during the 'October Plan.'
March 3, 2005
ADC Files Administrative Appeal with DHS Privacy Office
Read the Administrative Appeal at: http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoFOIA.doc
On March 3, 2005, ADC filed an administrative appeal with the Privacy Office at DHS. This appeal was also denied.
February 8, 2006
ADC, Represented by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Files New FOIA Request
Read the FOIA Request at: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Feb82006FOIAtoICE.pdf
As a result, ADC retained the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP as counsel to address the use of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) in immigration enforcement efforts. Represented by Kirkland & Ellis attorneys Tefft W. Smith, Amanda J. Wong, and John C. O'Quinn, ADC filed a new FOIA request concerning this issue on February 6, 2006. In violation of law, DHS has never responded to that request.