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September 17, 2019

ACLU’s CBP FOIA request is now more than six months old, despite law that gives CBP 20 days to respond

CONCORD, N.H. – Today, the ACLU of New Hampshire filed a federal lawsuit challenging the length of time that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has taken to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed more than six months ago. The ACLU filed a FOIA request after obtaining documents illustrating new methods that involve CBP officers dressing in plain clothes, following people around town, and asking probing questions before ever identifying themselves as being immigration enforcement.  These tactics are often happening far from the Canadian border, even as far as 100 miles.

“CBP officers in plain clothes and unmarked cars are targeting people in New Hampshire, often nowhere near the border, who are simply going about their daily business. What we want to know is exactly how these officers are identifying individuals as potentially being undocumented immigrants,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “These documents should be released as quickly as possible, as it has been more than six months and according to FOIA law, we should have received a determination within 20 days.”

FOIA law states that a federal agency must provide a determination within 20 business days that states whether or not they have the applicable documents. If they do, they must produce the requested documents promptly.

“It is clear that these types of disguised interactions are not random or rare—we now have cases that show this is a method that CBP is employing,” said SangYeob Kim, immigration staff attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “More than six months ago, we filed a FOIA request for more information, and we certainly hope to receive the documents soon.”

The lawsuit was filed as a part of the New Hampshire Immigrants’ Rights Project, started in July 2018 by the ACLU of New Hampshire to address the need for increased legal aid for immigrants in the state. In addition to taking legal action, the Project conducts “Know Your Rights” trainings and teaches other interested lawyers how to take on immigration cases.

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