Working pro bono with the American Immigration Council, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and its component agency U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seeking to compel the release of additional documents related to the CBP complaints process.

The lawsuit, brought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeks to update information received from CBP in a previously filed FOIA request, where the Immigration Council obtained data concerning 809 complaints of abuse lodged against U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents between January 2009 and January 2012.

The Immigration Council seeks to measure any improvements in the complaint process since that date. The Council’s analysis of the earlier data revealed that the outcome in 97 percent of the cases CBP claimed to have resolved was “No Action Taken.” These included numerous cases claiming “physical abuse” by USBP agents (cited in 40 percent of the complaints) or “excessive use of force” (referenced in 38 percent of the cases). The Council’s analysis of the earlier data appears in its May 2014 report titled “No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse.”

Although more than eight months have passed since the Council’s 2015 FOIA request, CBP has not provided any responsive documents to that request. The Council’s suit seeks prompt disclosure of the requested materials.

The firm’s work on this matter is part of its Barbara McDowell High Impact Pro Bono Initiative, which was launched in 2009 in conjunction with the establishment of the McDowell Foundation to honor the work of the late Barbara McDowell, a national leader in public interest advocacy who died of brain cancer. Ms. McDowell, who previously worked at the Solicitor General’s Office of the United States Justice Department, served as the founding director of the Appellate Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and was the wife of Drinker Biddle partner Jerry Hartman.

The filed complaint is here.

View the Drinker Biddle Press Release