Tohono O'odham Roadblock Incident

Border Patrol:

Even though the defendants have sworn, under oath, the roadblock was a 'sobriety' checkpoint, Border Patrol agents were present in force and were observed searching vehicles as they initially entered the checkpoint. In addition, Border Patrol agents were observed manning secondary inspection stations where tribal police would re-direct vehicles suspected of carrying illegal aliens. These facts were confirmed in documentation provided by U.S. Customs.

Given the large presence of federal agents at the roadblock and their active participation in roadblock operations, it was clear a joint task force was at work whose scope far exceeded legal mandates. As such, both the Border Patrol and tribal police have gone to great lengths to hide the scope of the operation - including falsifying testimony under penalty of perjury.

Several months after the roadblock, I submitted a FOIA request to the local Border Patrol office seeking documentation related to Border Patrol activities on December 20th. The Border Patrol initially responded with a single incident report detailing aid given to a pregnant woman at the roadblock. They claimed no other documentation was available even though I personally observed the presence of dozens of Border Patrol agents and several bus loads of individuals who were rounded up by Border Patrol personnel and transported away from the scene.

After I filed an appeal in Washington, D.C., the Border Patrol suddenly discovered additional documentation responsive to my request but refused to release it on the grounds it would invade the privacy of Border Patrol agents. Over 20 months later, I received a final administrative denial to my request in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Border Patrol's refusal to comply with the law is not unusual given that it routinely operates outside lawful mandates. This violation is even more striking however given that U.S. Customs granted my FOIA Appeal for a functionally equivalent information request. Since both agencies are part of the same department, the Border Patrol's denial is clearly arbitrary and not based upon a legitimate exemption under the law.

In early November of 2005, I filed an additional FOIA request for a report that U.S. Customs and Border Protection filed with Congress in April. This time the denial was even more egregious in that CBP demanded I submit various forms of biographic documentation and an explanation of why I want the report even though the Freedom of Information Act incorporates no such requirements and provides no agency exemptions if such information is not submitted. Clearly the Department of Homeland Security has adopted a policy of intimidation and harassment to discourage individuals from requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Below you will find links to the various FOIA requests and subsequent unlawful denials over the past three years. I've also compiled comprehensive documentation regarding Border Patrol misconduct in the Southwest that is available here.

FOIA Documentation:

Roadblock FOIA Documentation:
Filing Date:
File Type:
Initial Request - A request for information on Border Patrol activities related to the December 20th roadblock.
168 KB pdf
Initial Response - The response includes documentation related to a single incident in which an alleged pregnant illegal immigrant was transported to the hospital. No reference is made regarding dozens of other individuals I personally observed being detained and transported away from the scene by Border Patrol personnel.
149 KB pdf
Second Request - A follow-up FOIA request that includes additional information regarding the documentation I am seeking. Included is a list of license plate numbers associated with Border Patrol vehicles present at the roadblock.
59 KB pdf
Second Response - The response fails to acknowledge any Border Patrol involvement at the roadblock even though a list of Border Patrol license plate numbers was included specifically identifying several agency vehicles present. This list included a greyhound sized bus that was observed being loaded with dozens of alleged illegal aliens.
87 KB pdf
Appeal - A formal appeal regarding the Tucson Sector Border Patrol's inadequate response to my FOIA requests.
301 KB pdf
DHS Appeal Acknowledgement - An acknowledgement from the Department of Homeland Security regarding my FOIA Appeal filed five months earlier.
37 KB pdf
DHS Response Addendum - After I filed an appeal, the Border Patrol suddenly finds 12 additional pages responsive to my requests but refuses to release them
109 KB pdf
Final Administrative Denial - Peter Gregory of the Department of Homeland Security's administrative law division has denied my FOIA appeal and ruled that a release of the documents I requested would represent an invasion of privacy of the Border Patrol agents who were involved in the unlawful roadblock on December 20, 2002. Now that the administrative options have been exhausted, I can pursue judicial remedy for this blatant violation of the Freedom of Information Act.
130 KB pdf


Permanent Arizona Checkpoint FOIA Documentation:
Filing Date:
File Type:
Southern Arizona Permanent Checkpoint Study Document Request - A FOIA request for an April of 2005 U.S. Customs and Border Protection study regarding the establishment of permanent Border Patrol checkpoint in Southern Arizona
93 KB pdf
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Response - In violation of the Freedom of Information Act, CBP demands that I submit several forms of biographical data before responding to my FOIA request along with a letter explaining why I want the data. The letter does not contain the name of the agent responding to my request or a FOIA case number.
162 KB pdf


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