Malachy McAllister receives a blessing from Fr. Brian Jordan. Moments afterwards, McAllister, accompanied by Fr. Jordan, entered the Federal Building in Newark, New Jersey. He was subsequently flown out of the United States on a government plane.
By Ray O'Hanlon
Shortly after the deportation of Malachy McAllister in June, the Ancient Order of Hibernians submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security asking for two specific pieces of information.
The first piece related to transcripts and email of all correspondence between the Newark Office Spokesman and members of the press concerning the deportation.
This was prompted by what the AOH viewed as "inaccuracies and embellishments" of McAllister's background and history released to the media from the Newark office.
The second request focused on all financial records and authorization for the chartering of an Air Ambulance in which McAllister was flown to Ireland.
The Hibernians wanted to to know how much it cost taxpayers to deport McAllister "immediately" rather than "letting someone who had lived here inoffensively for two decades two weeks to heal from injury where cheaper commercial travel would be viable."
McAllister had been struck by car while out cycling just days prior to his deportation and had suffered significant arm and rib injuries.
As far as the AOH was concerned, the haste that was employed in deporting McAllister only made sense if DHS felt that additional time would result in a successful appeal, and that DHS was acting to avoid such a development in the case.
According to the the Hibernians, DHS had indicated that a response would be forthcoming on August 3.
Said Neil Cosgrove, AOH National Political Chair: "We have not gotten a response and continue to get a bureaucratic boot dance to any follow-up inquiries. Given that this is a request for information for events of less than six months ago, there should not be a need for an extensive records search.
Here below is the text of the FOIA request to DHS submitted by Mr. Cosgrove on behalf of the AOH.
"I am contacting you as the Chief FOIA Officer concerning FOIA 2020-ICFO-56457, which your office received on 6/30/2020. The subject of the request are specific documents pertaining to the deportation of Mr. Malachy McAllister on 10 June of this year; we are talking about contemporary events that should not require extensive searching to address this FOIA.
Our understanding of FOIA compliance requirements is: Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), each agency is required to determine within 20 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt of a request whether to comply with the request. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). The actual disclosure of documents is required to follow promptly thereafter. The FOIA permits an agency to extend the time limits up to 10 days in “unusual circumstances” (i.e., the need to collect records from remote locations, review large numbers of records, and consult with other agencies). 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B)(i). The agency is supposed to notify the requester whenever an extension is invoked.
"We are well beyond those stipulated deadlines. Per the DHS’ own website, https://www.dhs.gov/foia-status, the estimated delivery date was 08/03/2020.
"We have not received any explanation for the delay, nor have we been contacted for an extension as outlined above. To be frank, we find this delay at conspicuous variance with the expedition that DHS showed in deporting Mr. McAllister, which included the extraordinary measure of charting an Air Ambulance at considerable taxpayer expense rather than allowing this man who had lived here inoffensively for twenty years the time to heal from an injury so that he could travel safely by commercial flight.
Given the extensive delay, we anticipate that the time has been productively used to complete a full and detailed response to our FOIA."
It is now the second half of November and the Hibernians are still waiting for a response.