Brennan Center v. Department of State
The Brennan Center filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against the Department of State for records pertaining to the president's travel bans, related visa applicant procedures and policies. In 2017, the Trump Administration issued two executive orders and a presidential proclamation restricting travel from a number of Muslim-majority countries. The orders were consistent with President Trump's campaign promise to establish "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" and his most recent statements advocating for the "EXTREME VETTING [of] people coming into the U.S."
On January 27, 2017 -- one week after assuming office -- President Trump signed Executive Order 13769, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." This first travel ban targeted all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somali, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- denying them entry, suspended the entire U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and indefinitely barred Syrian refugees. Following several successful legal challenges in federal courts, the Administration issued a second travel ban, Executive Order 13780 on March 6, 2017, instituting a 90-day ban on travel from the list of countries identified in the previous order minus Iraq, and a world 120-day suspension of refugee processing. On March 15 and 16, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland enjoined sections 2(c) and 6 of the second order -- the travel-ban and refugee provisions -- preventing them from going into effect. But even as these important sections of the order were being struck down in the courts, the Administration started enacting other provisions in the order, namely, the "extreme vetting" regime targeting individuals.
On July 20, 2017, the Brennan Center, in conjunction with Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Penn State Law Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia requested information on the travel ban. The Administration has released very few details relating to the implementation, methods or intentions of the "extreme vetting" regime. Out of concern that the Trump Administration is using "extreme vetting" as a means of implementing a Muslim ban, the requestors sought information from the Department of State about these new vetting procedures and related policies. These records would provide the public with a significant resource of information about "extreme vetting" and the Administration's travel bans, yet the government refuses to disclose relevant documents. As the complaint argues, the public has a right to know more about a series of policies that have raised concerns for its unjustified targeting of Muslims and its impact on communities at home and abroad.
Read the complaint here.
Read the Brennan Center's report on Extreme Vetting here.
- How The Supreme Court Botched the Muslim Ban Ruling (Michael Price, Fortune, June 27, 2017)
- Trump’s Latest Half-Baked Muslim Ban (Faiza Patel & Harsha Panduranga, The Daily Beast, June 12, 2017)
- Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Could Criminalize Islam (Andrew Lindsay, Brennan Center for Justice, March 23, 2017)
- Beware Trump’s Phony ‘Terror’ List (Faiza Patel, The Daily Beast, March 22, 2017)