Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Department of State Requests Proposals for International Visitor Program

The Department of Homeland Security has published final rules exempting certain systems from some provisions of the Privacy Act because of “criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.” The systems include the General Counsel Electronic Management System (GEMS, PDF). The DHS noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys work closely with investigators throughout the process of adjudicating immigration cases. ICE attorneys “must have access to investigative documents and related materials in order to form their decisions about how to handle particular cases.” Additionally, DHS noted, ICE attorneys create attorney work product associated with immigration proceedings. The GEMS system will facilitate the collection and maintenance of materials used by ICE attorneys in immigration adjudications. “It will supplement and ultimately replace the current attorney work product paper files that are primarily stored and managed in the hardcopy alien file commonly known as the ‘A-file,’ ” DHS noted.

DHS also is claiming exemption from certain requirements of the Privacy Act for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS, PDF). DHS noted that because the purpose of the SEVIS system is to collect and maintain pertinent information on nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors, and the schools and exchange visitor program sponsors that host them while in the U.S., “it is possible that the information in the record system may pertain to national security or law enforcement matters.” Disclosure of related information would therefore present a “serious impediment” to law enforcement and national security efforts, DHS said. Disclosure of the information also would permit an individual who is the subject of a record “to impede the investigation and avoid detection or apprehension, which undermines the entire system.” DHS said this exemption is “a standard law enforcement and national security exemption utilized by numerous law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

DHS said it is establishing a new agency-wide system of records under the Privacy Act for DHS General Legal Records (PDF). This will ensure that all components of DHS follow the same privacy rules for collecting and handling general legal records. DHS is proposing to exempt its general legal records from provisions of the Privacy Act.

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Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.