September 13, 2018
Issue: Muslim Ban
Groups Pursue Retraction After Trump Administration Refuses to Correct Illegal and Intentionally Inaccurate Terrorism Report About Immigrants
Appeal Letters Follow Report Administration Ignored Its Own Data to Advance False View That Foreign-Born Persons Pose Threat to National Security
18 National Security Experts Sign Letter of Support, Say Accurate Information Thwarts Terrorists’ Goals
Washington D.C.- On behalf of Muslim Advocates, Democracy Forward filed administrative appeals in the groups’ ongoing effort to force the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to retract and correct an intentionally misleading and biased report regarding the number of acts of terrorism committed by immigrants and the degree to which they pose a threat to national security. The appeal comes after the agencies denied an earlier request by the group to retract and correct the report, and further argues the report violates the Information Quality Act (“IQA”)–a data accuracy law that requires the government to ensure information provided to the public is unbiased, clear, and useful.
In support of today’s appeal, 18 national security professionals submitted a letter to the agency to highlight the dangers this kind of false narrative poses to the country’s counterterrorism and broader national security goals. “Accurate information helps to thwart terrorists’ immediate goals of distorting public understandings and sowing discord,” the bipartisan group of experts assert. “To mislead the public into viewing foreigners overwhelmingly as the perpetrators of terrorism offenses in this country serves to confuse and divide the public in ways contrary to effective counterterrorism and all too welcome to those terrorists who seek to inflame and polarize our country.”
“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 government’s Report asserts that 73 percent of individuals convicted of international terrorism-related offenses were foreign-born, a statistic that is based on an unreliable methodology, misleading interpretation of the data and not reviewed by DHS career experts.
“This report was false and discriminatory from the start, but it also violates the law,” said Democracy Forward Senior Counsel Robin Thurston. “Whether in federal court or before the offending agency, we’ll keep pushing to hold the Trump Administration accountable for these persistent and dangerous attacks on Muslim and immigrant communities.”
After the report was released in January, Muslim Advocates and Democracy Forward were the first to petition under the IQA for a retraction and correction. The Administration failed to respond within the 60-day statutory deadline, forcing the groups to file suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in April. DOJ and DHS did ultimately provide tardy responses to the petition, to which the groups elected to respond through today’s appeals. The litigation has been voluntarily stayed as the groups press the IQA issues before the agencies.
More information on the IQA petition, and the responses provided by the agencies, is available here.
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.