A redacted version of the report of an internal review by the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of DHS implementation of President Trump’s January 2017 “Muslim Ban” Executive Order has been made public several months after the report was prepared.
Federal law requires every Cabinet-level Federal department, including the DHS, to have an Inspector General. The DHS Inspector General is part of the DHS, but is appointed by the Presidentand, operates with considerable autonomy, and comes closer to the role of an “independent counsel” than does any other officer or office within the DHS.
The existence of the OIG report on DHS actions under the first “Muslim Ban” Executive Order (EO) was revealed in a November 2017 letter to Congress from IG John Roth. In this letter, IG Roth said that his office had delivered a draft of the Muslim Ban EO report to DHS “leadership” (presumably meaning the office of the Secretary of Homeland Security) in early October 2017, but that DHS leadership was taking an unusually long time to approve release of the report and had requested unusually extensive redactions. Days later, Roth took early retirement.
Open The Government (OTG) requested a copy of the report under the Freedom Of Information Act, but that request was denied on highly questionable grounds. However, two days after Open The Government and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) appealed that FOIA denial, the DHS posted a redacted version of the report.
OTG and POGO are continuing to appeal the redactions, but even the expurgated version of the report is a damning indictment of DHS operational divisions, particularly US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for illegal defiance of Federal court orders.
In our analysis of the Muslim Ban Executive Orders, we focused on DHS efforts to induce airlines to (illegally) deny boarding at foreign airports to blacklisted individuals and citizens of blacklisted countries, preventing refugees from reaching the US and thus preventing them from even applying for asylum.
We are struck that the OIG report assessing the legality of DHS actions focused on exactly the same issue we had highlighted: DHS efforts to induce airlines not to board citizens of the countries subject to the Muslim Ban EO on flights to the US from foreign airports, even after Federal courts in Boston and later elsewhere in the US had enjoined DHS to admit these people to the US.
The OIG concluded that, “It is our considered view that the issuance of no-board instructions violated the Louhghalam and Mohammed [U.S. District Court] orders.”
The OIG report includes examples such as the following: Read More