You can use FOIA to hold the Trump administration accountable by filing a records request of your own, following MuckRock’s “FOIA the Trump Administration” project, and joining our Slack channel to share ideas and get help with your requests. If you have a Trump administration related FOIA you would like us to highlight, share it over email, Twitter or Facebook and we may include them in the next roundup.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement: local requests on national policy
The best records requests are specific, so if you want to know how the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration enforcement tactics are impacting your area, why not ask your local institutions?
Mila Koumpilova of the Minneapolis Star Tribune requested records from her local jails on how many immigration detainees were being housed and found a 60% increase since Trump took office. She also found that this increase has been a financial boon for local county sheriffs’ offices, as they have charged over $7 million to ICE for housing detainees. By requesting local, Koumpilova was able to obtain more granular data local detentions and show how local governments in the Minneapolis area are benefiting from the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
Immigration detention stats from the feds can take time to get, only exist by region. So we went to our local jails. https://t.co/aXNZULEKLG— Mila Koumpilova (@MilaKoumpilova) October 11, 2017
Requesting communications of local ICE offices can shed light on how agents respond to federal edicts on how to handle enforcement and public relations matters. A series of FOIA requests by students at Vanderbilt University Law School showed ICE officials asking their Austin and San Antonio offices to supply “the three most egregious cases” of criminals captured in the Trump administration’s first ICE raids. The requested emails show the Austin and San Antonio offices failing to provide examples that would help ICE portray those affected by the raid as hardened criminals.
Trump officials’ industry ties
The Trump Administration is brimming with former lobbyists, many of whom signed ethics agreements not to work on matters pertaining to their old employers. FOIA requests filed by The New York Times and ProPublica show how lobbyists turned Trump officials might be opening agency doors for their old employers despite these ethics agreements. Rebeckah Adcock, a former pesticide lobbyist, is now the head of Trump deregulation team at the Department of Agriculture and signed an ethics agreement promising to avoid work on the issues she lobbied on for one year. Through requests for this agreement and USDA visitor logs, The New York Times and ProPublica were able to show that she has met with and facilitated meetings for representatives of her old employer and its pesticide industry trade group.
Completed MuckRock requests to explore:
Department of the Interior - Cost of Secretary Zinke’s commemorative coin
Department of Homeland Security - Ethics pledges
Washington Metropolitan Police Department - Response to Muslim ban protests
Pending MuckRock requests to watch:
Department of Energy - Anita Perry traveling as DOE “asset”
Federal Bureau of Investigation - Trump transition briefing materials
United States Secret Service - Records pertaining to canceled Trump rally in Chicago
Join our Slack channel to share ideas for FOIAing the Trump administration or to get help with your own requests.
Image by Shealah Craighead via White House Flickr