The Power of the Freedom of Information Act

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 131

By Mark Krikorian and Colin Farnsworth on November 16, 2023

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On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, we are joined by Colin Farnsworth, the chief FOIA counsel at the Center for Immigration Studies, to discuss a powerful tool that promotes transparency and accountability from federal agencies – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Farnsworth notes that FOIA essentially “shines a light on government actions.”

The FOIA process empowers individuals outside the government to compel the disclosure of information that should be public. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, the purpose of FOIA “is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold governors accountable to the governed.”

Farnsworth walks listeners through the FOIA request process, outlining some limitations, such as its inability to force the creation of new records by the government.

The Center recently filed a FOIA request, and subsequently a lawsuit, to obtain the names of U.S. airports that received flights of illegal aliens being paroled into the country through Biden’s CBP One parole scheme. Once CBP did respond, the crucial details were redacted from the documents; CBP justified the redactions under the claim of protecting law enforcement techniques. Farnsworth shared that the Center plans to challenge this dubious explanation, in hopes of unveiling critical insights into the impact of the influx of illegal immigrants on various cities.

Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of the podcast, encourages anyone with tips or information to share through the Center’s encrypted email account.

In his closing commentary, Krikorian highlights a recent Center analysis of the Institute for International Education’s study on foreign students. The study found that over a million foreign students are in the country. However, an estimated 200,000 of these are on student visas, but have actually already graduated and are now working under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program — a foreign worker initiative that exempts companies from payroll taxes when hiring foreign graduates for up to one year (three for STEM). David North, a Center fellow, estimates that this taxpayer-funded subsidy, aimed at encouraging the hiring of foreign workers over Americans or legal residents, totaled one billion dollars last year.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Colin Farnsworth is the Chief FOIA Counsel at the Center for Immigration Studies.


New Records Unveil Surprising Scope of Secretive ‘CBP One’ Entry Scheme

Border Informants and Immigration Whistleblowers

New Report Shows Increase in Foreign Students, but Downplays Subsidy


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".