Knight Institute v. DHS – FOIA Suit for Records on Ideological Exclusion and Social Media Monitoring

Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump issued an executive order directing agency heads to develop a program of “extreme vetting” of immigrants, refugees, and visitors to the United States. In May 2017, the State Department adopted a questionnaire requesting that certain visa applicants  disclose their social media handles. In October of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security further indicated that it intends to maintain records of the social media accounts of immigrants, including naturalized U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, beginning on October 18.

After filing a FOIA request on August 7, 2017, seeking records relating to the government’s consideration of individuals’ speech, beliefs, or associations when making immigration decisions, the Knight Institute followed with a lawsuit to obtain these records. The documents sought by the Knight Institute concern the government’s claimed authority to exclude or remove non-citizens from the United States based on their speech, beliefs, and associations, and those relating to new screening policies focused on expressive and associational activity.


 

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