Uncovering Immigration Enforcement Agency Databases

Uncovering Immigration Enforcement Agency Databases

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employs a complicated and obscure network of databases, information systems, and data sharing methods that are largely shielded from public view. DHS’ two primary immigration enforcement agencies—Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—use these databases and systems.

To obtain information held by ICE and CBP, individuals must pursue requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—one of the few tools the public has to obtain information that the government does not proactively disclose. Each year, ICE and CBP collectively receive more than 100,000 FOIA requests.

Without a clear understanding of the complicated web of databases and record-keeping systems that these agencies maintain, requesters are not able to efficiently and successfully obtain information through FOIA requests. As a result, the public does not obtain important data and information about ICE and CBP enforcement practices.

The Council is filing FOIA requests to uncover detailed information from CBP and ICE that will enable others to file targeted, accurate records requests.

We submitted a FOIA request to CBP on March 5, 2021 seeking:

  • CBP’s Corporate Data Dictionary, which includes standard terms and definitions used in CBP data.
  • A list of all CBP databases.

We submitted a FOIA request to ICE on March 15, 2021 seeking:

  • ICE Law Enforcement Systems and Analysis (LESA) Division presentations on ICE databases.
  • A list of all ICE databases.
  • Tables and fields contained in the Enforcement Integrated Database (EID).

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