OGIS Releases Immigration and Customs Enforcement FOIA Compliance Assessment

President Johnson signs the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. (NARA Identifier 2803428)
President Johnson signs the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. (NARA Identifier 2803428)

Today we are publishing our FOIA compliance assessment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The report shows how ICE’s investments in its FOIA program enabled the agency to virtually eliminate its FOIA backlog in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015.

In FY 2012, ICE’s backlog spiked to 2,443 requests. The number of FOIA requests received and ICE’s backlog continued to grow rapidly during FY 2013 and FY 2014, driven in large part by ICE’s termination in April 2012 of an agreement with the another DHS component, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agreement had allowed USCIS to process ICE information found in a certain type of frequently requested immigration record. Without the agreement, ICE’s backlog swelled to 56,863 requests in FY 2014, accounting for almost 55 percent of the overall backlog at DHS and almost 36 percent of the overall backlog Government-wide.

In addition to investing in the program in FY 2015 to eliminate the FOIA backlog, ICE adopted management controls to measure and increase the FOIA staff’s productivity. ICE also used its FOIA processing and tracking system to make its process efficient and invested in other technology to further streamline the process. At the end of FY 2015, ICE reported a backlog of 555 requests, accounting for one-half of a percent of the overall DHS backlog.

Download a copy of our report to learn about all of our observations about ICE’s FOIA program and our recommendations.

The assessment is the last of six we conducted at DHS components. Keep an eye on this blog for a final report on the DHS Privacy Office, which is delegated with the authority to develop and oversee the implementation of policies within the DHS regarding compliance with FOIA.