Even After Conceding Errors, Trump’s DOJ and DHS Refuse to Retract or Correct Misleading Report
Democracy Forward, Muslim Advocates File Opposition with Court
Oakland CA— Today, on behalf of Muslim Advocates, Democracy Forward filed a brief opposing the Trump administration’s attempt to dismiss the groups’ lawsuitchallenging the continued dissemination of an intentionally misleading and biased Report, jointly published by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in January 2018. The Report falsely claims that most terrorism-related offenses are committed by immigrants. Both agencies have admitted that the information quality concerns first raised by the groups in January 2018 have merit, but still refuse to retract or correct the Report, in violation of federal law.
The groups allege that DOJ and DHS are violating a federal data accuracy law—the Information Quality Act—by manipulating data to misleadingly portray foreign-born people as the primary terrorist threat facing America. The Report wrongly asserts that 73% of individuals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses were foreign-born, using a flawed methodology to produce that result.
“The Trump administration was forced to admit that this Report is biased and misleading, yet it still refuses to correct the public record,” said Democracy Forward Counsel Ben Seel. “As long as they continue to stand behind this xenophoic and misleading report, we will continue to fight back.”
“The Trump administration continues to deliberately disseminate false information about Muslim and immigrant communities that stokes fear and puts lives at risk,” said Sirine Shebaya, Muslim Advocates Interim Legal Director. “The stakes could not be higher. We won’t give up the legal fight to hold the administration accountable for its words.”
Timeline of Action:
In January 2018, the groups first submitted a request for correction or retraction of the Report.
After the agencies failed to respond, the groups filed a complaint in federal court in April 2018.
The agencies provided responses in the face of litigation. The responses, which denied the request for correction or retraction, were inadequate, so the groups filed administrative appeals seeking reconsideration in September 2018.
The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at the Georgetown University Law Center submitted a letter to the agencies, which was signed by nearly a dozen counterterrorism experts, including Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The ICAP letter emphasized the damage to our national security that this kind of misleading Report causes.
In December 2018, DOJ admitted that its Report “could be criticized” for failing to “promote the perception of objectivity,” but still refused to correct the Report.
Muslim Advocates and Democracy Forward filed their opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss on May 20, 2019 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.