Examining the Freedom of Information Act — Part 3 of 3

For the last in our three-part series on the Freedom of Information Act, we’ll be taking a look at what types of documents can be requested from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and what the process is for making the request.

With more than 60,000 employees, CBP is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. As we’ve explained before, the Freedom of Information Act provides that any person has a right to obtain access to federal agency records, so long as the records do not fall under one of nine exemptions outlines in part one of this series. Just about anyone can file a Freedom of Information Act request. This includes U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, corporations, associations, public interest groups, news outlets, private individuals, universities, and local, state or foreign governments.

Typically, the following types of information can be requested:
• Some information regarding apprehension by Border Patrol between official ports of entry (prior to 2000, records are not complete).
• CBP background investigations (that do not fall under one of the exemptions).
• CBP contracts information.
• Statistics regarding detention or expedited removal proceedings by Border Patrol or at ports of entry.
• CBP human resources information.
• Travel industry reservation data such as Passenger Name Records (PNRs).
• Records regarding an individual’s own inspection or examination upon arrival at a port of entry.
• Voluntary return data.

Personal information is typically not released to third parties. DHS regulations require, in the case of third party information requests, a statement from the individual verifying his or her identity and certifying that individual’s agreement that records concerning him or her may be accessed, analyzed and released to a third party.

If an individual is in the U.S., they may be able to look up their I-94 record online. Read more about that here: https://berardiimmigrationlaw.com/immigration-blog/i-94card

Freedom of Information Act requests are initiated online by visiting https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/request/publicPreCreate, creating an account and providing the requested information to process your request. The more detailed and specific information you can provide in your request, the easier it is for CBP to locate the information you seek and respond to your request.

For more information on FOIA requests or to schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys at Berardi Immigration Law, please visit https://berardiimmigrationlaw.com/contact-immigration-lawyers.

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