Sanctuary Fines FOIA Litigation

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

February 26, 2020

Current Status 

Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed in early 2022. 

Co-Counsel 

New York University Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic

Client(s) 

Austin Sanctuary Network, Free Migration Project, Grassroots Leadership

Case Description 

The purpose of the FOIA request and lawsuit is to obtain information for the public about federal agencies' policies of imposing fines and monetary penalties on individuals, specifically immigrants taking sanctuary. As organizations that engage in advocacy and public education on behalf of immigrant communities, Grassroots Leadership, Free Migration Project, Austin Sanctuary Network, and the Center for Constitutional Rights have an interest in understanding the implementation of these policies, how they were developed, and what goals the agencies have in enforcing them. The need for this information is extremely urgent, as massive fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars have been levied against several women in sanctuary who have spoken out against these fines and U.S. immigration policy. 

Case Timeline

February 4, 2022
Cross-motions for summary judgment filed by parties
February 4, 2022
Cross-motions for summary judgment filed by parties
Plaintiffs file cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to the government's motion for summary judgment, challenging the government's redactions as well as their searches. We file our reply brief on April 22, 2022.
April 23, 2021
DHS ends civil fines policy for immigrants who "failed to depart"
April 23, 2021
DHS ends civil fines policy for immigrants who "failed to depart"
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announces the end of a Trump-era policy that authorized ICE to issue thousands of dollars in fines to immigrants who failed to depart the U.S.
October 22, 2020
Sanctuary leaders and organizations release key FOIA documents
October 22, 2020
Sanctuary leaders and organizations release key FOIA documents
Requesters release five key documents showing the targeting of sanctuary leaders by ICE with civil fines.
February 26, 2020
Complaint filed in Southern District of New York
February 26, 2020
Complaint filed in Southern District of New York
Austin Sanctuary Network, Free Migration Project, Grassroots Leadership and the Center for Constitutional Rights file their complaint demanding records regarding civil fines against those taking sanctuary.
December 5, 2019
ICE sends new letters threatening fines
December 5, 2019
ICE sends new letters threatening fines
One of the new fine letters sent by ICE.
October 17, 2019
ICE sends letters withdrawing some fines
October 17, 2019
ICE sends letters withdrawing some fines
ICE withdraws some fines but states they can renew fines at any time.
September 11, 2019
Groups send FOIA request to agencies
June 25, 2019
Civil fine letter from ICE (sample)
June 25, 2019
Civil fine letter from ICE (sample)
One of the fine letters sent to people in sanctuary by ICE.