WASHINGTON, D.C.— On behalf of immigrant advocacy and legal organizations, Democracy Forward petitioned the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to retract and correct false statements claiming the Trump Administration did not implement a policy of forced family separation along the Southwest Border. The groups are challenging the intentionally inaccurate claims under the Information Quality Act (“IQA”), a law requiring federal agencies to disseminate accurate and reliable information to the public.
The groups include Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and Muslim Advocates.
On April 6, 2018, the Trump Administration adopted a policy of criminally prosecuting every undocumented individual who entered the United States through the Southwest Border, including those seeking asylum. Where the apprehended individual was a parent traveling with a child, it was DHS policy to separate the family–forcefully in some cases–so that the parent and child could be detained separately.
The same day audio reports were released of separated children crying in detention centers, DHS embarked on a misinformation campaign to mislead the public about the existence of its separation policy. As part of this effort, DHS issued a “Myth vs. Fact Sheet” which characterizes as “myth” that “DHS has a policy to separate families at the border,” and falsely represents as “fact” that “DHS does not have a blanket policy of separating families at the border.”
According to the Administration’s own data, between April 19 and May 31, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents due to President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.
The letter was submitted on June 28, 2018. Under DHS’s IQA guidelines, the agency has 60 days to respond in writing to the request for correction.