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AHA Announcements, Archives & Records


Archives, Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora

The American Historical Association joins co-plaintiffs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in sharing the success of our lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit challenged NARA’s approval of ICE’s records disposition, which would have authorized ICE to destroy several categories of records documenting mistreatment of immigrants detained in ICE custody.

On March 12, 2021, Judge Amit Mehta granted summary judgment on the challenged aspects of ICE’s records destruction plan, writing, “NARA’s approval of the schedule was arbitrary and capricious on the grounds that NARA failed to evaluate the research value of the ICE records and that NARA failed to address significant and relevant public comments.” The court thus invalidated “NARA’s approval of the ICE Disposition Schedule as to the Sexual Abuse and Assault Files, ERO Death Review Files, Detainee Segregation Case Files, Detention Monitoring Reports, and DRIL Records and remands those portions of the Schedule to NARA for further consideration.”

The court also made clear that during its records evaluation process, NARA must pay close attention to the records’ long-term research value and must meaningfully consider public comments raising concerns.

NARA received over 23,000 comments opposing the planned disposition schedule. Members of Congress, civil rights and immigrant advocates, historians, researchers, and archivists were among those who opposed the destruction plan for these records.