Knight Institute v. DHS
Nate Kitch

Knight Institute v. DHS

A FOIA lawsuit seeking records on ideological screening at the border

On October 4, 2017, the Knight Institute filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking records relating to the government’s ideological screening of immigrants and visitors.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued an order directing federal agencies to develop a program for the “extreme vetting” of immigrants, refugees, and visitors to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and other agencies have since developed and implemented policies involving the review of expressive and associational activities — including social media activity — of individuals applying for U.S. visas.

On August 7, 2017, the Knight Institute submitted FOIA requests for records relating to these "extreme vetting" policies and to the government’s claimed authority to exclude or remove non-citizens from the United States based on their beliefs and associations. The Institute filed this lawsuit to enforce those requests.

Agencies Involved: Department of Homeland Security (Customs & Border Protection, Immigration & Customs Enforcement); Department of Justice (Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Public Affairs); Department of State

Status: On September 13, 2020, the district court denied the government’s motion for clarification and partial reconsideration of the court’s September 16 and 23, 2019 orders ruling that ICE’s searches were inadequate and that DOS’s, ICE’s, and USCIS’s withholding of certain records was unjustified. Negotiations over agency searches and processing ongoing.

Case Information: Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. DHS, No. 1:17-cv-07572-ALC (S.D.N.Y.).

Press Statements


Reading Room

Ideological Screening at the Border

Documents released in our FOIA lawsuit for records on the "extreme vetting" program

Legal Filings

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