May 8, 2017 – The backlog of unprocessed FOIA requests to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to climb. In just a two-year period, the backlog of unanswered FOIA requests has tripled, climbing from 17,998 at the end of December 2014 to 46,550 at the end of December 2016.
This means that countless requesters including reporters, scholars, and those subject to immigration actions are not getting the information they need to check against unlawful actions and to better hold the government accountable to the governed.
Little improvement has occurred in USCIS’s processing of FOIA requests. While the number of FOIA requests the agency receives has been increasing, during the last quarter of FY 2016 the number of closed FOIA cases took a precipitous tumble, falling from a monthly average of 13,913 in June 2016 to only 211 during October 2016. Closures have only recovered slightly to just 1,400 during December 2016.
These figures are based upon an independent analysis of request-by-request data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in response to the quarterly survey conducted by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University for the FOIA Project.
The latest figures on FOIA backlogs and wait times for federal agencies responding to TRAC’s latest quarterly survey are now posted on FOIAproject.org.
Our “Agency FOIA Backlogs and Processing Times” data tool shows these trends in detail.
The FOIA Project is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants and individual contributions. The TRAC Gift Fund has been set up through the Newhouse School at Syracuse University to support this effort:
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University.In a working democracy that was consistent to its principles, government data collected and maintained by our tax dollars would be freely and readily made available to the American people. But in 1966, Congress found that a vast quantity of government information was being withheld and reacted by passing a law – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This Act established the broad legal requirement that most government information must be made public. www.trac.syr.edu