FOIA Advisor

Q&A: Over the border line

Q&A (2019)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q. I sent a FOIA request [from The Netherlands] to the U.S Customs & Border Patrol on Feb. 28, 2019, and it has been stuck at the assignment stage. I was wondering if there is a way to expedite the process or file a complaint?

A. The agency’s delay entitles you to file a lawsuit in federal court. If you prefer not to take that step yet, you might consider asking the Office of Government Information Services for assistance.

Alternatively you can ask CPB to expedite your request -- that is, to move it up in the queue for faster processing . To do so, however, you would need to demonstrate a “compelling need” for expedition. You can meet that standard by showing, for example, that the failure to expedite could be expected to pose an imminent threat to life or safety or a loss of substantial due process rights. Alternatively, the agency would expedite your request if the matter at issue is of widespread media interest and affects public confidence in the federal government’s integrity.