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Boston bombingDHS refuses FOIA requests for the Tsarnaev brothers’ immigration papers

Published 16 May 2013

DHS has rejected repeated FOIA requests for the federal immigration records of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s records on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying they are still conducting an investigation. 

DHS denies repeated requests for bombers' immigration records // Source: chaobuoisang.net

DHS has rejected repeated FOIA requests for the federal immigration records of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s records on Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying they are still conducting an investigation.  

The Boston Globe reports that it has requested the records of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under the Freedom of Information Act, arguing the public has the right to know how the brothers’ immigration applications were handled. Both brothers applied for U.S. citizenship.  Dzhokar was granted citizenship last year.

A DHS official told the Globe the records are being withheld on an exemption in federal law which protects records or information “compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”

“I have determined that the records you have requested are part of an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation,” James Holzer, senior director of FOIA operations for DHS, said in a letter rejecting the paper’s request. “Accordingly, those documents are being withheld.”

The interest in the papers is at least partially motivated by concerns that the FBI and other federal agencies overlooked warning signs and did not share information on the brothers before the bombing.

According to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, federal agents never told local police officials that Tamerlan was investigated or that he traveled to Russia to meet with terrorist groups.