For years, advocates have documented persistent allegations of child abuse by Department of Homeland Security officials, in particular, Border Patrol agents holding children in their custody. In June 2014, at the height of the unprecedented migration of unaccompanied children entering the United States, the ACLU filed an administrative complaint with DHS documenting 116 allegations of child abuse. Although high-ranking officials initially conceded that there were problems that needed investigation, DHS subsequently shut down all investigations. In December 2014, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with DHS, seeking any and all records pertaining to allegations of child abuse or other mistreatment. The agency failed to timely respond to the FOIA request. With Cooley LLP and the ACLU of San Diego, we filed a federal lawsuit to compel DHS to search for and turn over those documents.

Despite obstruction and delay by DHS, we have succeeded in compelling the agency to produce thousands of pages of documents. The parties cross moved for summary judgment on the adequacy of DHS’s search for responsive documents as well as the validity of exemptions DHS continues to assert for withholding certain documents. On August 14, 2017, the district court granted summary judgment in part and denied it in part, ordering the government to undertake additional searches and supplement the record.

Update: The government filed a motion for reconsideration concerning disclosure of certain agents’ names. In January 2018, the government produced additional documents as a result of the order requiring supplemental searches. Recently, the motion for reconsideration was won. 

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Cooley LLP


United States District Court

Case number