Council Files FOIA Lawsuit to Expose Immigration Enforcement in Federal Prisons

Eagly v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, et al., No. 2:20-cv-08968-FMO-GJS (C.D. Cal., filed Sept. 30, 2020)


The American Immigration Council filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of the University of California (UCLA) School of Law Professor Ingrid Eagly seeking to uncover the scope and operation of immigration enforcement within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. 

Why Was this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request Filed? 

The Institutional Hearing Program (IHP)—which is administered in partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—is one way that BOP assists immigration agencies in facilitating the deportation of people in its custody. The IHP is an extension of the immigration courts that operates in federal prisons under the guise of expediting deportation for individuals who are serving sentences for criminal offenses. However, the program operates largely outside of public view and with little regard for due process, including access to counsel. Despite the program’s shortcomings, the Trump administration worked to expand the program. Even further shielded from the public eye are deportation orders issued by deportation officers, instead of immigration judges, working within BOP prisons. 

The FOIA lawsuit seeks all BOP policies and procedures for operating the IHP, including any policies or procedures to ensure that people subjected to the program have access to counsel and other due process protections. The lawsuit also seeks data on the scope of immigration enforcement within BOP facilities. The records requested are crucial to understanding how people are ordered deported behind prison walls.  

The Council filed this lawsuit with the assistance of local counsel DT Law Corporation. 

What Records Did the Government Release? 

The BOP produced records that reveal the close coordination between BOP and ICE to ensure that all non-U.S. citizens in BOP custody are evaluated by ICE for possible placement in IHP proceedings. The records show that BOP affirmatively identifies all non-U.S. citizens in its custody, provides necessary information to ICE, and confirms that ICE screens each individual for the IHP. The records also reveal that BOP has historically used the IHP to segregate noncitizen inmates by national origin. 

To review the produced records, follow this link. 

Follow this case:

  • Publication Date: 
    November 29, 2021
    The Institutional Hearing Program permits immigration judges to conduct removal proceedings for noncitizens serving criminal sentences in certain correctional facilities.

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