ICE Policing

October 2023 Update

“Surge Operations” FOIA Litigation

IDP et al. v. ICE et al., No. 1:20-cv-10625-RA (S.D.N.Y.)
IDP et al. v. CBP et al., No. 1:22-cv-09920-RA (S.D.N.Y.)
Requestors Immigrant Defense Project and Center for Constitutional Rights are represented by Andrew Wachtenheim, Ian Head, Ghita Schwarz, Mizue Aizeki, and Zee Scout.
Court filings, administrative FOIA requests, relevant decisions

U.S. Department of Homeland Security = DHS
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement = ICE
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations = ICE-ERO
ICE Homeland Security Investigations = ICE-HSI
U.S. Customs and Border Protection = CBP
Freedom of Information Act = FOIA
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York = SDNY
Immigrant Defense Project = IDP
Center for Constitutional Rights = CCR
Surveillance Resistance Lab = SRL

In February 2020, Trump Administration officials leaked a story to the New York Times about hundreds of CBP officers being deployed into U.S. cities to participate in ICE policing operations. They provided sparse detail–primarily, that squads of officers would engage in surveillance around the clock, have high arrest quotas, and would arrest bystanders. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As DHS and ICE emerged as pandemic superspreaders, IDP and CCR filed a FOIA request with DHS and ICE, asking for information and documents about this unprecedented policing operation that would join CBP and ICE inside U.S. cities. When DHS and ICE produced nothing, IDP and CCR sued in the SDNY in July 2020. In May and June 2022, IDP, CCR, and SRL filed two additional FOIA requests with DHS, ICE, and CBP, for documents and information they refused to provide in response to the February 2020 request. When the agencies produced virtually nothing, IDP and CCR sued again with SRL, and joined the two lawsuits. Over three years of litigation, Judge Ronnie Abrams ordered ICE and CBP to search for and produce thousands of pages of documents, spreadsheets, and audio files to IDP and CCR.

Through the lawsuits–two combined civil actions in the SDNY, Nos. 1:22-cv-09920–RA, 1:20-cv-10625-RA–we learned that ICE-ERO requested large-scale staffing additions from HSI and CBP, and eventually the agencies entered into memoranda of agreement. While the Times leak focused one one operation, Operation Palladium, the FOIA results revealed that there were actually several operations, some of which had already been completed. The FOIA results include ICE operation plans, team staffing breakdowns, memoranda of agreement, emails among DHS officials, planning for media statements, emails with reporters, and records of communications with police departments across the United States. For additional information about the surge operations FOIA results, please contact IDP at [email protected].

Practice Advisories

Amicus Briefs

Prado v. ICE Agent Perez et al.

  • Prado v. ICE Agent Perez, No. 1:18-cv-09806-JPO (S.D.N.Y. filed Oct. 24, 2018): Federal Tort Claims Act and Bivens lawsuit seeking damages for ICE’s warrantless home raid and failure to provide adequate medical treatment in detention
    • Complaint 
    • Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss
    • Order on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss