Why a Quartz reporter is suing the government for immigration data
David Yanofsky, a reporter at Quartz, writes about his lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce asking a judge to compel the release of two databases that chronicle the flow of people into the United States.
Yanofsky writes, “My lawsuit concerns two databases maintained by the ITA: One contains anonymous immigrations records; the other, statistics about international air travelers. Together, they would tell us a lot about who is entering the country, and for what purpose, at a time when American border policy is under intense scrutiny.
“For instance, we could gain a better understanding of how many people would be affected by Trump’s plans to severely restrict travel from predominantly Muslim countries. Which US cities would be most affected by a decline in such travelers? What kind of impact would those measures have on the global economy?
“While the government can analyze the data and cherry-pick metrics to make available for public release, only the full databases can answer these questions for sure. The commerce department, which oversees the ITA, has argued that making the information freely available would undermine its business selling the data. But documents obtained through public records requests show that no private entities have bought the detailed ITA data for years.”
The case is now in the hands of a district judge to make a ruling or request more information.