Open The Government filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services recently under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for failing to provide records on one of its contractors. The lawsuit stems from a FOIA request, originally opened in December 2018, made by Freddy Martinez, Policy Analyst at OTG, after reviewing documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents pertain to General Dynamics, a major defense contractor, which is deeply integrated in the process of detaining children for ICE. The full scope of the contract and its involvement with child detention is currently unknown.
present themselves at the border, they are transferred from ICE into the custody
of the Department of Health and Human Services which is tasked with
reuniting them with their family. As a condition for being reunified with their
family, the government collects information about the life of the family. In
turn, it uses a third party – in this case General Dynamics- to verify data
collected is accurate. However, additional emails reviewed Open The Government reveal
General Dynamics is much more deeply embedded beyond “third party verification”.
For example, General Dynamics also provided the Office of Refugee and Resettlement
with logistical support under DHS’s “zero tolerance” policy.
The myriad of ways defense contractors profit from family separation warrants greater public scrutiny. Yet instead of transparency for the contracts, our request for records FOIA was delayed over nine months. To add insult to injury, our appeal to the DOJ for records was never responded to. All of this highlights the need for greater transparency around the use of defense contractors in our immigration system.