A pair of anti-Trump organizations — one of which advocates on behalf of Muslims within the United States — have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration over a terrorism report released earlier this year that they assert is “misleading” and possibly in violation of federal law.
According to The Washington Times, the lawsuit was filed by Democracy Forward and Muslim Advocates over a report jointly issued by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice which revealed that nearly three out of every four individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the U.S. since 2001 were foreign-born.
The primary complaint from the groups is that the report “inaccurately” focused on Islamic terrorism and “misleadingly inflates the threat (Muslims) pose to the United States,” while at the same time ignoring cases of domestic terror committed by non-Muslims.
They further took issue with the way the report has been used as a basis by the Trump administration to support some of their immigration reform proposals, such as the temporary travel ban that has been wrongly characterized by the anti-Trump media as a “Muslim ban.”
“The report perpetuates the ongoing stigmatization of immigrants and Muslims by the administration,” the groups stated. “For example, the Trump administration has used the report to justify its sweeping ban on the entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries into the United States. It has also specifically tied the report’s findings to its calls for an end to the issuance of diversity and family reunification visas, which would have a significant negative impact on Muslim immigrants.”
“This so-called report is blatantly false, purposefully misleading, and it’s illegal,” stated Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates, according to Courthouse News. “The government has an obligation to be truthful and transparent, and we plan to hold this administration to that standard.”
At the heart of the lawsuit are federal laws known as the Information Quality Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which require information released by the government to be accurate and for any public requests for corrections to be addressed in a timely fashion.
The groups claim that their requests to the DOJ and DHS for corrections have not received a response so they want the court to step in and prohibit the administration from further use or dissemination of the report.
Their lawsuit asserts that the report “manipulates information” by leaving out acts of domestic terrorism committed by “right-wing extremist” and “white supremacy” groups. They also disagreed with the inclusion in the report of individuals who had committed acts of terrorism overseas but had been convicted in U.S. courts following extradition, suggesting those terrorist acts and convictions shouldn’t have been counted.
“The report has been used explicitly to stoke anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment and is likely to continue to be used in this manner,” the group alleged.
But in their complaints about what was and was not included in the report, the groups overlooked the fact that the January 2018 report came about as a result of a March 2017 executive order issued by Trump which specifically tasked the DOJ and DHS to determine how many foreign nationals had been convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 2001, how many foreign nationals had been “radicalized” and provided material support to terrorists, and how many foreign nationals had engaged in gender-based violence against women, such as “honor killings,” and not how many of those crimes had been committed by U.S. citizens.
The report concluded in part that some 549 individuals had been convicted of terror-related offenses in U.S. courts between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2016. Of those 549 people, 402 of them — roughly 73 percent — were foreign-born, of which 148 had become naturalized or U.S. citizens.
“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality — our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” stated Attorney General Sessions at the time of the report’s release. “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.”
“Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds,” Sessions added. “The pillars of President Trump’s immigration policy — securing our porous borders, moving to a merit-based immigration system that ends the use of diversity visas and chain migration, and enforcing our nation’s laws — will make their jobs easier and make the United States a safer place.”
Ultimately, the DOJ and DHS put together a report providing the specific information sought by the president, and the reality of the lawsuit filed against it is that the anti-Trump groups simply don’t like that information being revealed and want it to be squashed by the courts.
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