A federal judge in New York ruled last week that immigration officials must disclose the names of certain illegal immigrants they arrest, a decision that appears to contradict an earlier ruling involving the Union Leader Corp.
On Thursday, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found in favor of the Boston Globe and its parent company, the New York Times. The news company sought the names of illegal aliens who were convicted of a crime, slated for deportation and then released from federal custody.
In April, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro ruled in New Hampshire that the Union Leader Corp. was not entitled to names of six illegal aliens, previously convicted of crimes, who were arrested in New Hampshire during a 2011 crackdown by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Both the Boston Globe and Union Leader argued that the public needs to know the names of the individuals in order to determine whether ICE properly performs its job. The Department of Homeland Security refused to release the names, calling it an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
“The right to free speech is weakened without a corresponding right to know what the government is up to,” said Gregory Sullivan, the lawyer representing the Union Leader.
He said the Union Leader filed a notice of appeal on June 10 with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said the agency continues to review the Boston Globe decision. He would not comment on the Union Leader case, noting the agency does not discuss pending litigation.
The New Hampshire congressional delegation reacted differently to the rulings.
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, said illegal immigrants who are convicted of violent crimes should be deported or imprisoned.
“In addition, illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes should not be given greater privacy rights than American citizens, because the public deserves to know if someone is dangerous,” Shea-Porter said.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte urged the Obama administration to not appeal the decision in the Globe case, said her spokesman Jeff Grappone. He said the Senate is not currently considering any changes to the Freedom of Information Act, which would allow for easier release of detainee names.
Rep. Annie Kuster and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen both urged ICE to work closer with police but avoided comment on releasing names.
“ICE should work with local law enforcement when releasing individuals detained for violations of immigration law,” said Kuster, a Democrat, in a statement released to the Union Leader.
Shaheen, a Democrat, believes ICE needs to better coordinate with local prosecutors when a criminal is released, said Shaheen spokesman Shripal Shah.
The Boston Globe case stems from discoveries found in a three-part series titled “Justice in the Shadows.”
The series reported that federal rulings prevent ICE from holding most illegal immigrants longer than six months, and that means many are released when their native countries refuse to accept their return.
Some have been released to commit brutal crimes, including a killing and a home invasion.
ICE released a list of 6,843 detainees to the Globe, but redacted their names. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered ICE to release the names.
“The public has an interest in knowing how ICE handles aliens convicted of crimes who are required to be released ... when their detention period exceeds six months,” Scheindlin wrote.