January 29, 2018
Issue: Stopping Discrimination
To Correct Misleading and Inflammatory DHS Report On Immigration, Groups Invoke Law Requiring Accuracy From Government
Muslim Advocates and Democracy Forward Demand DHS, DOJ Correct Distorted Facts and Data Used in Joint Terror Report
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today Muslim Advocates and Democracy Forward petitioned the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to retract and correct, within 60 days, their unreliable and misleading joint report regarding the frequency with which immigrants commit acts of terrorism. The groups sought corrections under the Information Quality Act (“IQA”), a little-known data accuracy law that requires government agencies to meet quality standards when disseminating information to the public, particularly when such information has a clear impact on public policy.
The petition alleges that DOJ and DHS violated the IQA in asserting that 73 percent of individuals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses were foreign-born, a statistic that is based on an unreliable methodology and misleading interpretation of the data.
As set forth in the petition and confirmed by other reports, the Administration’s analysis manipulates facts to artificially inflate the terrorist threat posed by immigrants — particularly Muslim immigrants — in an effort to promote the Administration’s extreme and anti-Muslim immigration policies. DHS officials have reportedly confirmed career experts were not consulted in the development of the report.
“Good policy begins with unbiased, reliable information and the Trump Administration is providing neither,” said Johnathan Smith, Legal Director of Muslim Advocates. “Instead, the Trump Administration has offered up this sham report in an effort to push their dangerously false and discriminatory narrative about immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants.”
The petition follows previous unsubstantiated claims by President Trump and the heads of DOJ and DHS regarding the purported threat posed by immigrants.
“This Administration’s cherry-picking of misleading data, while the President smears real news as fake, is unacceptable,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “Federal agencies have an obligation to publish real facts in an unbiased way, and we all have an obligation to call them on it when they don’t.”
In November, Democracy Forward invoked the IQA to demand that the Treasury Department correct misleading statements made during the tax debate. The Treasury Inspector General has advised that it will review the Treasury Department’s response to the IQA demand. Under the little-known data quality law, federal agencies are required to provide accurate, reliable, and unbiased information to the public. Information must meet an even stricter quality standard if it is expected to have a “clear and substantial impact on important public policies,” like the current debate on immigration policy.
The petition was submitted to DOJ and DHS on January 29, 2017. Under IQA guidelines, the agencies have 60 days to respond to the request for correction.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.
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.