NewsFlash: Brennan Center Files FOIA Request for Information on Extreme Vetting Policies

July 20, 2017

On July 20, 2017, the Brennan Center for Justice, Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of State seeking information on its visa applicant vetting procedures and policies. The law firm of Covington & Burling LLP represents the requestors.

Over the past months, the State Department has been rolling out “extreme vetting” policies as a part of its implementation of President Donald Trump’s March 6, 2017 executive order. The part of the order that banned people from six Muslim countries from traveling to the United States had been enjoined by an appellate court because it was motivated by “religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The origin of the department’s extreme vetting policies and statements made by the president give rise to serious concerns that extreme vetting is a way to impose a Muslim ban behind closed doors, shielded from public scrutiny. For this reason, requestors seek the public release of more detailed information on the development and application of extreme vetting policies.

“There is ample evidence suggesting that the extreme vetting policies being implemented by the State Department are aimed at stopping Muslims from coming to the U.S.,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “The United States has long been a country that welcomes people of all faiths and creeds and such a departure from our traditional values requires careful examination.”

Harsha Panduranga, Fellow in the LNS program, added, “The administration’s proposed and enacted extreme vetting policies provide no clear national security benefits but nonetheless erect prohibitively high barriers to entry for affected visa applicants – we need to learn more about how those subject to these policies are chosen.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Beatriz Aldereguia at (646) 292-8369 or