Apr. 4, 2005 – An organization seeking to expose government attempts to hide legal proceedings against immigrants won a small victory this weekend as the Department of Justice agreed to drop a demand that the group pay a $373,000 research fee for the information.
The organization, People for the American Way Foundation (PFAWF), initially filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in November 2003, asking for information about the detention and legal proceedings against immigrants held by the US government in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. When Department of Justice FOIA officials denied the request, the group filed a lawsuit in August 2004, asking the court to compel disclosure of the documents. PFAWF says it is looking for information about secret judicial proceedings against the immigrants, including the number of cases resolved secretly, how many people the policies have affected and who those people are.
But even with the fee dropped, PFAWF may never get the information it seeks. In a March letter to the group, Justice Department official Marie A. Oâ€™Rourke said the request was "overly broad and would require an unduly burdensome effort on the part of [the Justice Department] to respond."
Furthermore, reports the Daily Business Review, Justice Department lawyer Marcia Berman said the government has asked that warrants and other documentation related to material witnesses be sealed in many cases.