The Trump Administration this week doubled down on a faulty report issued earlier this year that transparently manipulated data to frame foreign-born people as terrorism threats – a study the administration has cited to justify its punitive, misguided immigration policies.
On January 16, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report entitled “Executive Order 13780: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, Initial Section 11 Report.” The report, to which a follow-up was due in mid-July, was released pursuant to the second in a series of executive orders banning travel to the U.S. from a set of predominantly Muslim countries.
Shortly after the report was issued, Muslim Advocates, Democracy Forward, Protect Democracy, and the Brennan Center for Justice, along with other experts, filed two separate petitions under the Information Quality Act (IQA) identifying a series of fundamental flaws in the report that violate the government’s own guidelines, and asking DOJ and DHS to retract or correct the report. When the agencies failed to respond to the petition in the timeframe required by law, the petitioners filed suit in California and Massachusetts.
Yesterday, the government filed a response in both cases, in which it argued that it has no obligation to address the glaring flaws in the report. Indeed, the government’s position is that courts do not even have the authority to require federal agencies to correct inaccurate information. Muslim Advocates, Democracy Forward, Protect Democracy, and the Brennan Center for Justice issued the following statement regarding the government’s response:
“Rather than addressing the fundamental flaws that we and many others have identified in the deeply misleading and biased report on the national origin of terrorists, the Trump Administration has decided to take the position that the American people are not entitled to accurate information. It is clear that the Administration is not interested in making policy based on sound data. Instead, the report uses incomplete and misleading data in an attempt to justify discriminatory immigration policy. A functioning democracy requires open debate on shared facts, which can be used to hold our leaders accountable for their decisions. The Administration’s insistence on spreading misinformation threatens our democracy and violates federal law. That’s why it is critical that the government retract this report. We’ll keep using every tool available to us to make sure they do.”