Did you know that the FOIA Project (FOIAproject.org) has a Brief Bank that collects “substantive briefs, motions, and testimony related to FOIA cases”?
The FOIA Project aims to “provide the public with timely and complete information about every instance in which the federal government grants or withholds records” requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). To that end, the project houses court dockets, complaints, opinions, and orders issued in FOIA lawsuits and FOIA appeals - brought in the U.S. district courts and the U.S. circuit courts, respectively - which challenge government withholding of requested information.
Last year, the FOIA Project established its Brief Bank initiative, supplementing its previously existing content. As of June of this year, legal interns at TRAC - a research center at Syracuse University - have uploaded nearly 1,000 additional documents from 27 different FOIA lawsuits, most of which focus on immigration enforcement.
According to the FOIA Project’s recent blog post about the new additions to the Brief Bank, “immigration-related FOIA requests dominate the number of FOIA requests nationally”, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) receiving 397,671 requests - more than all other federal agencies combined in Fiscal Year 2020. In fact, DHS was one of the most frequently named defendants of the 11 federal agencies named in the recently added lawsuits, second only to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The high volume of such FOIA requests highlights the value of the newly added documents, which “provide insight into how federal immigration agencies function” as well as the “types of records that immigration agencies are attempting to withhold from the public” and the “uphill battle that FOIA requesters face when they seek those records.”
The materials in the Brief Bank are linked to their respective court cases, so users can simply use the existing search tools (see the “FOIA Lawsuits” tab at the top of FOIAproject.org for search options) to access any of the contributed briefs.
The new documents were contributed by several litigators from various institutions. The FOIA Project is looking to add more briefs to its collection in hopes of helping users prepare for FOIA requests or lawsuits, facilitating research, and promoting government transparency and accountability. If you have relevant material to contribute, you can contact the project at FOIABriefs@foiaproject.org.