FOIAing the Trump administration: local ICE impacts and ongoing industry ties

FOIAing the Trump administration: local ICE impacts and ongoing industry ties

Plus, completed requests on ethics pledges and Muslim ban protests

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

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.

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.

In Oregon, videos of local ICE arrests by have prompted requests for records on the specific incidents and ICE tactics in the state.

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.

Many other Trump officials’ calendars and financial disclosure forms have been made available through FOIA requests, which can illuminate ongoing industry ties and provide ideas for further requests.

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