In an October 25 ruling, a federal judge decided that Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a reasonable records search in response to a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The case follows a June 2010 ICE raid on Terra Universal factory in Fullerton where 43 undocumented workers were arrested.
The ACLU of Southern California soonafter filed a class action against the company on the grounds of violating state and federal labor laws. Months later, Osfel Andrade, a plaintiff in the suit, was arrested at his Anaheim home by ICE prompting the civil liberties organization to have “deep concerns” over its apparent retaliatory nature.
The ACLU then filed a complaint with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records relating to Andrade and ICE's work-site immigration enforcement policies were initially unmet.
The agency relented and produced 2,126 pages in total in June of this year. The ACLU claimed that DHS should have searched and released records of its Office of Inspector General. On that issue, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II disagreed.
On other matters, however, the tone of the decision was much more critical. “It remains unclear whether or not all of ICE's redactions are justified,” Wright wrote. “In short, review of the record raises “substantial doubt” as to the adequacy of the search, particularly in view of positive indications of overlooked materials.”
As for records concerning Andrade, the judge particularly agreed with the ACLU that ICE used incomplete and inconsistent search terms instead of other variations that could have yielded better results.
In the end, Judge Wright held that an agency producing documents in response to a FOIA request need not conduct a perfect search, only a reasonable one.
Despite questionable redactions, substantial doubt and the possibility of withheld records, ICE, in his view, was reasonably insufficient! Yeah…