This week students from Ohio State University’s Civil Law Clinic and the Ohio legal services group Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) jointly sued the Border Patrol in a continued attempt to gather documents about the agency’s immigration policing practices in northern Ohio. The students and advocates are concerned about reports of racially biased policing by the Border Patrol’s Sandusky Bay Station. Sandusky is located on the coast of Lake Erie about one hour west of Cleveland.
Their suspicion is buttressed by a statistical analysis of three years of apprehension log data done by a sociologist at nearby Bowling Green State University Kara Joyner. According to Joyner, “For all three fiscal years, the Sandusky Bay log is documented to have significantly higher apprehension ratios [for Hispanics generally and Mexicans specifically] than the DHS log as a whole.” For example, although Mexicans make up a smaller percentage of the population within the Sandusky Bay Station than the Buffalo, New York Station (3.1% compared to 11.0%), Mexicans comprised a much larger percentage of people apprehended in Sandusky than Buffalo in 2011 (61.8% versus 44.4%). One would expect the opposite to be true.
To get a better sense of why this is happening and, importantly, whether it conforms to legal limitations on immigration policing activity, the OSU Civil Clinic, led by the impressive Amna Akbar, and ABLE requested a host of policing information in August pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. See Freedom of Information Act Request Concerning the Sandusky Bay Station of the Customs and Border Patrol (Aug. 18, 2014). Among the types of documents sought were records of deportable or inadmissible migrants (Form I-213), Border Patrol daily apprehension logs, copies of all immigration detainers (Form I-247) issued, and any policies and procedures guiding immigration patrols. FOIA requires that agencies respond to all FOIA requests within 20 days of receipt. Failure to meet the 20-day deadline can be treated as a denial of the request.
Since 20 days have obviously long since passed, the two groups have turned to the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern Ohio for recourse. The are asking the court to order the Border Patrol “to immediately conduct a reasonable search for agency records” requested under FOIA” and to hand over those records to the students and advocates. See Complaint for Injunctive Relief, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Civil Clinic et al. v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, No. 14-2329 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 18, 2014).
Find this information useful? Then let others know about crImmigration.com, as well as César’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. And to make sure you don’t miss an update, subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the subscription box that appears on every page.