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FOIA: Muslim Ban documents

IRAP represented the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Connecticut and Make the Road New York in a Freedom of Information Act case that sought records about the Muslim Ban.


When President Trump took office in 2017, he issued successive executive orders, commonly referred to as “Muslim Bans,” that were designed to prevent people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. These orders imposed outright suspensions on entry of nationals of certain countries and also ordered executive agencies to implement so-called “extreme vetting.”

Despite President Biden’s admonition that the Muslim Ban was a “stain on our national conscience” and his professed commitment to shine a light on its abuses, many of the policies implementing the Muslim Bans, particularly the “extreme vetting” policies, continue to keep people, especially from Muslim-majority countries, out of the United States. This case sought to bring to light documents from this shameful period of U.S. history. Ultimately, the government turned over thousands of pages of documents about how the Muslim Ban was implemented, including one of the Muslim Ban Reports that President Trump ordered the Secretary of Homeland Security to produce in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence.

The government had attempted to shield the entire Muslim Ban Report from disclosure under the Presidential Communications Privilege—which protects certain limited presidential communications with the president’s most trusted advisors from disclosure to the public. After we challenged the government’s withholding of the Report on summary judgment, the Court ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine how broadly the Muslim Ban Report had been circulated within the government. Thereafter, the government settled this case and provided the Report to IRAP’s clients with many redactions lifted.

Case status

The Parties settled the case after summary judgment and before a scheduled evidentiary hearing.

  • June 27, 2017: Complaint is filed.

  • January 25, 2023: Defendants file a Motion for Summary Judgment, defending the withholding of the Muslim Ban report.

  • February 13, 2023: IRAP files a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to bring to light documents related to the Muslim Ban.

  • April 17, 2023: The Court issues an order on summary judgment holding that the federal government failed to show that the Presidential Communications Privilege shielded the Muslim Ban Report from disclosure, and directing a factual hearing on that issue.

  • September 6, 2023: The Parties inform the Court that they reached a final settlement in the case.

The National Immigration Law Center and the Yale Law School Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic were co-counsel in this case.

Follow the Case

  • June 27, 2017 Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Violation of the Freedom of Information Act

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  • January 25, 2023 Defendants’ Memorandum in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment

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  • January 25, 2023 Declaration of DHS Chief Privacy Officer James Holzer

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  • January 25, 2023 Declaration of IPS Deputy Director Susan Weetman

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  • January 25, 2023 Declaration of IMO Chief Gregory Koch

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  • February 13, 2023 Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment and in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment

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  • April 17, 2023 Court Order on Motions for Summary Judgment

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  • September 6, 2023 Joint Status Report

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