New York, NY – Judge Paul Gardephe of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ordered the State Department to respond by Feb. 9 to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for critically important reports about the process that led to the development and creation of Muslim Ban 3.0. The judge ordered the government to produce all materials not subject to any FOIA exemptions and to produce a list and explanation for any documents it withholds.
This ruling comes as the administration has refused to provide any meaningful response to requests for the results of a “worldwide review” used to justify banning travel for all or most citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela.
The case, Brennan Center for Justice v. U.S. Department of State, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2017 after the administration failed to respond to a July FOIA request submitted by several civil rights organizations, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Muslim Advocates and the Brennan Center for Justice and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP. The administration has yet to comply with any part of that request and has refused to propose any schedule for producing the documents, even though the statutory deadline for a response has long since passed.
Quotes from involved organizations are below:
Richard B. Katskee, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “President Trump’s Muslim Ban is a short-sighted, reckless policy that deprives American Muslims of the opportunity to reunite with family members, friends and colleagues – something that other Americans take for granted. So far, the administration has refused to disclose the information that it developed to justify the ban. Our lawsuit is designed to get this information out to the American people, where it belongs. We’re pleased that the court has agreed to expedite this process.”
Johnathan Smith, legal director for Muslim Advocates: “The government has attempted to shroud all of its actions around the Muslim ban in secrecy. We applaud this ruling and hope it results in greater clarity about the absence of any meaningful justification for the sweeping ban on more than 150 million nationals of Muslim-majority countries. The ban is continuing to separate families and loved ones from each other and will do nothing to advance national security.”
Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law: “Thanks to candidate and President Trump’s own words, we know that the purpose of his travel ban was to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. But it remains a mystery how the administration produced its bizarre list of Muslim countries from which to ban visitors. The court’s ruling should spur the release of documents that can shed light on whether the administration’s decision-making on banning millions of travelers to the U.S. was as scattershot as it seems.”
Click here to read the court’s order.
Click here to read the complaint.
Click here to read the original FOIA.
Click here to read the Brennan Center’s report on Extreme Vetting and the Muslim Ban.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.