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Mora-Villalpando v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 23, 2018

MARIA MORA-VILLALPANDO, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendants United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), United States Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services's ("USCIS") (collectively, "Defendants") motion to strike portions of Plaintiff Maria "Manx" Mora-Villalpando's amended complaint. (Mot. (Dkt. # 20).) Ms. Mora-Villalpando opposes the motion. (Resp. (Dkt. # 24).) The court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court DENIES Defendants' motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Ms. Mora-Villalpando's request for records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (2000), which she submitted to each Defendant on February 23, 2018. (Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 16) ¶ 42.) The court summarizes the FOIA statutory structure, Ms. Mora-Villalpando's FOIA requests, and the paragraphs Defendants seek to strike.

         A. FOIA Statutory Structure

         FOIA requires agencies to make records "promptly available to any person" who submits a request that reasonably describes such records and is made in accordance with the statute's filing procedures. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A). The agency "shall make reasonable efforts to search for the records." Id. § 552(a)(3)(C). Unless the information sought falls into one of the nine specified exemptions, the agency must disclose the requested information. See Id. §§ 552(b)(1)-(9).

         Exemption 6 protects "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." Id. § 552(b)(6). Furthermore, exemption 7(C) allows an agency to withhold "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that // production of such law enforcement records or information ... could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."[2] Id. § 552(b)(7)(C).

         B. Ms. Mora-Villalpando's FOIA Requests

         In her FOIA request, Ms. Mora-Villalpando sought three categories of information. First, she sought records and documents pertaining to the immigration enforcement actions taken against her. (Id. ¶ 43.) Second, she sought information pertaining to immigration enforcement actions taken against other individuals who have provided public statements regarding their immigration status or participated in immigration rights activism. (Id. ¶ 44.) Third, she sought documents indicating enforcement action initiated against an individual because of that individual's statements to the media or involvement in immigrant rights activism. (Id. ¶ 45.) Ms. Mora-Villalpando sought expedited processing for her request to CBP. (Id. ¶ 46); see 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(i).

         USCIS acknowledged receipt of Ms. Mora-Villalpando's request on March 5, 2018. On March 16, 2018, USCIS produced documents responsive to the first category of Ms. Mora-Villalpando's requests, but not to the second or third categories. (Am. Compl. ¶ 48.) Ms. Mora-Villalpando appealed USCIS's response on April 19, 2018, arguing that USCIS improperly withheld documents, conducted an inadequate search, // and failed to respond to the second and third categories of requests. (Id. ¶ 49.) USCIS denied Ms. Mora-Villalpando's appeal on May 8, 2018. (Id. ¶ 50.)

         CBP acknowledged receipt of Ms. Mora-Villalpando's request on February 23, 2018, but did not respond further until May 15, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 51-52.) On May 15, 2018, CBP informed Ms. Mora-Villalpando that it was unable to locate or identify any responsive records. (Id. ¶ 53.) Similarly, ICE acknowledged receipt of the requests on March 15, 2018, but did not respond further until May 30, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 54, 57.) ICE produced only records responsive to the first category. (Id. ¶ 57.)

         Based on the agencies' responses, Ms. Mora-Villalpando alleges that the agencies violated FOIA by failing to promptly conduct a reasonable search for the requested records and further failing to timely produce responsive records. (Id. ¶¶ 60-66); see 5 U.S.C. § 552(a). She seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. (Am. Compl. at 19 (Request for Relief).)

         C. ...


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