Chaos, Confusion and Obfuscation at DHS Around Family Separation

Family separation, one of the Trump administration’s harshest and most controversial policies, was carried out with a startling lack of planning, coordination, or oversight, even after officials spent months laying the groundwork for the policy. Part of Trump’s hallmark “zero tolerance” initiative, the policy formalized the separation of children from parents as a deliberately cruel measure to attempt to deter future migrants. Documents obtained by American Oversight provide further evidence of a staggering pattern of miscommunication and disorganization within the Department of Homeland Security at the same time officials were issuing misleading public statements about the administration’s policies.

American Oversight launched investigations into the policy’s origins and implementation, and to date has filed more than 120 public records requests to state and federal government agencies to shed light on this dark period in American history. On Tuesday, we published an extensive timeline of the administration’s communications about family separation, including both its public statements about the policy and internal discussions we uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act.

Documents from DHS as well as its component agencies, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reveal that family separations were executed with breakdowns in communication, even as the topic claimed an amount of attention at odds with the administration’s public statements downplaying the policy. High-ranking officials seemed unprepared to handle the policy’s impact. And throughout these documents, we see little concern for the children whom the administration tore from their parents. 

Poor Coordination and Unresolved Civil Rights Issues 

Early outlines for the implementation of this zero-tolerance policy show that family separation was executed with little coordination or care for the human consequences. Documents containing email threads from March 2017 show us that Kirstjen Nielsen, then DHS chief of staff, and her associates were unprepared for the response to the Reuters story that first reported that the administration was considering separating families. An individual whose name is redacted shared the article with Allen Blume, budget director at DHS, saying, “Allen – I would be truly grateful if you could tell me this isn’t being seriously considered.” Blume forwarded the email to Kevin McAleenan, then acting commissioner of CBP, who shared it with Nielsen. Nielsen replied, “Can we reach out to [redacted]? Also what is our TP [talking point] here? (And what is the inside story?)”

An undated memo titled “Information for Parents and Children,” which appears to have been written shortly after the April 2018 announcement of the zero-tolerance policy and was included in documents we received from DHS headquarters, said that “family units generally will not be permanently separated, information on the location and welfare of children in the custody of Department of Health and Human Services will be provided to parents, and communication between families will be facilitated.” In reality, some children were left in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while their parents were deported, and the federal government struggled to track children, who were now labeled “unaccompanied,” after they had been separated from their families. 

The memo also said, “Except in the case of exceptional circumstances, any department or agency of the Federal Government that has an unaccompanied alien child in custody … shall transfer the custody of such child to the Secretary of Health and Human Services not later than 72 hours after determining that such child is an unaccompanied alien child.” Congressional investigators later found that some children had been held in border facilities for up to a week, in potential violation of the Flores Settlement Agreement, which set standards for the detention and release of children in DHS custody.

High-ranking DHS officials — including current acting Secretary Chad Wolf — sometimes appeared unprepared for the tragic consequences of the family-separation policy. Tracy Short, principal legal adviser at ICE, sent an email to then-DHS Chief of Staff Wolf in June 2018 with a snippet from the Wikipedia page on the Ursula Central Processing Center, CBP’s largest detention center and the epicenter of family detention. Short asked Wolf if he wanted “more info” from CBP.

To make matters worse, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at DHS was seemingly left in the dark about the family-separation policy and the administration’s plans for safeguarding the rights of the children separated from their families. The documents show that on April 6, 2018 — the day then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy — Deputy Officer for CRCL Veronica Venture reached out to Deputy Undersecretary James McCament to discuss the “over 1,000 complaints” of family separations that the office was handling. “As you may or may not be aware, CRCL has received an enormous volume of matters alleging inappropriate family separations and is preparing to issue recommendations on the topic,” Venture wrote, “but we are not clear on the Department’s broader perspective on family separation and whether a formal change in policy is likely.” 

American Oversight also submitted a FOIA request to DHS for the recommendations mentioned in that email. ICE responded saying it had “no responsive records,” suggesting that CRCL’s recommendations, if finalized, were at the very least not shared with ICE.

Despite the confusion around the family-separation policy, a January 2018 memo from CRCL shows that DHS was aware of the serious issues that emerged in early family separations. On Jan. 23, Dana Salvano-Dunn, a deputy officer at CRCL, sent Cameron Quinn, a CRCL officer, a “brief write-up regarding the forthcoming CRCL recommendation for a DHS/HHS family separation work group.” The memo was based on 27 of 950 “family separation matters” since 2016 that it had investigated. 

Some of the problems cited include: 

  • “a lack of clear family separation protocols” and “no uniform and clear understanding within CBP and ICE” regarding the legal rights of children in their custody; 
  • “significant inconsistency in … decisions and custody placements”;
  • “inconsistent, inaccurate, or no record-keeping for all arriving family members” in DHS systems;
  • “lack of coordinated, timely, and effective inter-agency coordination and information-sharing protocols”; 
  • “Problematic outcomes” such as “nursing mothers and infants separated,” “prolonged separations of parents and minor children,” “no contact or awareness of other family members’ locations,” and “difficulty” in reunification due to “detention placements/communication problems.”

In short, DHS knew that grievous problems existed even when family separations were happening at a smaller scale, and appears to have done nothing to fix these issues before the government started separating hundreds of children from their families.

The Administration’s Internal Discussions vs. Public Communications on Family Separation

Despite officials like former Secretary Nielsen repeatedly denying publicly that the Trump administration had an official family-separation policy, documents reveal that internally, officials were frequently discussing the subject along with specific instances of family separation. As early as March 7, 2017, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Dimple Shah emailed then-Counselor to the Secretary Gene Hamilton asking to “discuss the ‘separating families’ issues raised at the morning huddle.”

On Dec. 11, 2017, just 5 days after Kirstjen Nielsen was sworn in as secretary, ICE Chief of Staff Thomas Blank emailed Debbie Seguin, program manager at ICE, and two others to report that Nielsen had asked ICE to draft decision memos on “separating Family Units and on vetting sponsors” for minors in the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program. “Neither of these are new and I believe [decision memos] have previously been drafted,” Blank wrote. In a follow-up email, he specified, “It would have been in the early September timeframe,” and later that day, staff found two memos from the Office of Policy — a “signed family separation memo” and a signed “UAC re-designation memo.” 

Emails show that family separation was also discussed as a potential “solution” to the so-called caravan of Central American migrants in March 2018. In an email discussion spurred by a message from the conservative anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies to White House officials, Francis Cissna, then director of USCIS, said, “Unfortunately … it is likely most of these people will indeed be let into the U.S. after claiming credible fear and then being briefly detained in family centers.” 

USCIS Adviser Kaitlin Vogt Stoddard responded with “the main points of concern” that she said had been laid out by USCIS officials Jennifer Higgins and John Lafferty. Stoddard wrote that potential “solutions” included actions to terminate the Flores Settlement, adding, “The other option, which I know is the subject of discussion, is that DHS may detain only the parents throughout the removal process, placing the child with HHS for placement as a now unaccompanied child under TVPRA [Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act].” 

When Stoddard mentioned sending the Higgins and Lafferty analysis to the USCIS press shop, Cissna warned, “Don’t think we’d want to say the highlighted portion publicly” (it is unclear which portion he is referring to). These early conversations demonstrate that officials not only were aware of how controversial separating families would be; they also recognized that the separation of families was exactly what the new policy aimed to do.

As DHS began to split more families apart and as the situation became more dire, emails showed concern among top DHS officials not for the welfare of the children in their custody but for the public appearance of their actions. Documents from show that high-ranking officials were looped in to carefully plan for congressional tours of detention facilities. In one email from June 2018, former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman discussed a Senate facility visit with Wolf and Assistant Secretary Christine Ciccone, saying, “Reuniting from the centers – if that happens frequently – would be another good area for the tour to focus on.”

Later in this document, in a thread with the subject line, “Stories,” DHS Deputy Chief of Staff Miles Taylor asked, “Do we have any more examples that we can provide to [Secretary Nielsen] of the types of instances where this separation has to happen?” Katie Waldman (now Miller), then DHS press secretary, replied with an anecdotal list of descriptions of people allegedly posing as families or using forged paperwork to gain entry. 

Our findings are not surprising, as they reflect the chaos and obfuscation we’ve come to expect from the Trump administration. This turmoil had lasting repercussions — including on the children in DHS custody. While such large-scale family separation may have officially ended, the administration’s cruelty toward immigrants has taken new forms like the Migrant Protection Protocols that forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico. We will continue to seek documents to create a historical record of the injustice faced by many migrant families.

Related Blog Posts

August 7, 2020

American Oversight Sues for Records of Federal Protest Crackdown

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Guard Bureau
August 6, 2020

News Roundup: The Levers of Power

Census Bureau, Department of Justice, United States Postal Service
August 5, 2020

American Oversight Calls on Justice Department to Investigate Gene Hamilton

Department of Justice, DOJ Office of the Inspector General
August 4, 2020

Investigations Update: DHS Intelligence Efforts in Portland, the Politicization of Key Government Agency, and the Pandemic’s Impact on Census

Arizona Attorney General, Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Georgia Office of the Governor, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, State Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Agency for Global Media, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
July 30, 2020

News Roundup: Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor … Trump’s Political Interference

Department of Education, Department of Justice, United States Postal Service
July 28, 2020

Investigations Update: ‘Burrowing In,’ Voter Fraud Task Forces, and Federal Law Enforcement

Agency for International Development, Arizona Attorney General, Arizona Office of the Governor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, DHS Office of the Inspector General, DOJ Office of the Inspector General, Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Secretary of State, Health Resources and Services Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Kentucky Attorney General, Kentucky Secretary of State, Millennium Challenge Corporation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Nevada Secretary of State, New York Office of the Governor, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Oklahoma Attorney General, Oklahoma Office of the Governor, Oregon Office of the Governor, Portland Independent Police Review Division, Portland Mayor's Office, Portland Police Bureau, Small Business Administration, U.S. Agency for Global Media, United States Secret Service, Wisconsin Elections Commission
July 24, 2020

News Roundup: The Political Theater of ‘Operation Legend’

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, State Office of the Inspector General
July 23, 2020

American Oversight Sues ICE, CBP for Records of Deaths in Custody

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
July 23, 2020

In the Documents: Stephen Miller Emails with Justice Department Official About Anti-Immigration Measures

Department of Justice
July 21, 2020

Investigations Update: Trump Administration’s Occupation of Portland, CDC Hospital Data, and the Republican Convention

California Department of Public Health, California Department of Technology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Management Services, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Technology Authority, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jacksonville Mayor’s Office - Florida, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, New York Office of the Governor, New York State Department of Health, New York State Office of Information Technology Services, Office of Information Policy, Small Business Administration, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Texas Office of the Governor, U.S. Marshals Service, Waukesha County - Wisconsin
July 17, 2020

The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Escalation of Aggression Against Portland Protesters

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Information Policy, U.S. Marshals Service
July 14, 2020

Investigations Update: Militarization of Police, Covid-19 in Migrant Detention Centers, and Barr’s Political Interference

Central Intelligence Agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Defense Logistics Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, General Services Administration, Office of Legal Counsel, Palm Beach County - Florida, Transportation Security Administration
July 8, 2020

Investigations Update: Mike Pompeo’s Abuses of Office, Trump’s Loyalty Purges, and Caring for Uninsured Covid-19 Patients

Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of State, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Senate, Health Resources and Services Administration, Iowa Office of the Governor, Iowa Secretary of State, National Credit Union Administration, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Nevada Office of the Governor, Nevada Secretary of State, New Hampshire Office of the Governor, North Carolina House of Representatives, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Office of the Governor, Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Senate, Small Business Administration, Texas House of Representatives, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, Texas Senate
June 30, 2020

Investigations Update: Family Separation, Unmarked Law Enforcement, and Trump’s Campaign Rallies

Agency for International Development, Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Cameron County - Texas, Customs and Border Protection, Dallas County - Texas, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Army, Department of the Interior, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida Department of Health, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Guard Bureau, National Park Service, New Hampshire Attorney General, New Hampshire Office of the Governor, New Hampshire Secretary of State, North Carolina Department of Health, Nueces County - Texas, Oklahoma Department of Health, Securities and Exchange Commission, Tarrant County - Texas, Texas Attorney General, Transportation Security Administration, Travis County - Texas, Tulsa County - Oklahoma, U.S. Marshals Service
June 24, 2020

American Oversight Sues ICE for Family-Separation Memos

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
June 19, 2020

Barr’s Policing Commission Undermines Community Trust and Violates Federal Law

Department of Justice
June 19, 2020

News Roundup: The Administration’s Failure to Confront Two National Crises

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Florida Department of Health, Florida Office of the Governor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jacksonville Mayor’s Office - Florida, National Credit Union Administration, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Small Business Administration, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Transportation Office of the Inspector General, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, United States Postal Service, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
June 18, 2020

American Oversight Sues ICE for Records of Detention Center Complaints

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
June 12, 2020

News Roundup: Georgia’s Disastrous Election, the Administration’s Alarming Protest Response, and Barr’s Troubling Tenure

Baltimore Mayor's Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Civil Division, Customs and Border Protection, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Interior, District of Columbia Mayor's Office, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida Department of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Justice Management Division, Miami-Dade County - Florida, National Guard Bureau, National Park Service, Nevada Secretary of State, New Jersey Department of Human Services, New York City Department for the Aging, New York City Office of the Mayor, New York Police Department, New York State Department of Health, New York State Office for the Aging, North Carolina, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina Senate, Office of Information Policy, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Office of Management and Budget, Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Senate, State Office of the Inspector General, Texas Secretary of State, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, United States Postal Service, United States Secret Service, Wisconsin Elections Commission
June 5, 2020

News Roundup: Trump and Barr Unleash Attack on Protesters — and the Constitution

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Army, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida Department of State, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Office of the Governor, Florida Senate, Food and Drug Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County - Washington, National Guard Bureau, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, U.S. Marshals Service, United States Secret Service
June 1, 2020

Tips for Filing Public Records Requests in Your State or City

May 29, 2020

News Roundup: A Somber Week After Memorial Day

Brown County - Wisconsin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs and Border Protection, Dane County - Wisconsin, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Army, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, General Services Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Milwaukee County - Wisconsin, National Security Agency, North Carolina Department of Health, North Carolina Office of the Governor, Office of Information Policy, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Outagamie County - Wisconsin, U.S. Agency for Global Media, U.S. Department of the Navy, Waukesha County - Wisconsin, Winnebago County - Wisconsin
May 29, 2020

New DHS Executive Secretary Linked to Stephen Miller’s Network

Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Social Security Administration
May 22, 2020

News Roundup: One Firing, Multiple Scandals

Agency for International Development, Athens-Clarke County - Georgia, Bexar County - Texas, Cobb County - Georgia, Dallas County - Texas, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Harris County - Texas, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Small Business Administration, State Office of the Inspector General, Texas Department of State Health Services, Travis County - Texas, Webb County - Texas
May 21, 2020

American Oversight Sues Administration for Documentation of Detention Center Covid Response

Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
May 21, 2020

In the Documents: Vaccines Expired in Detention Facility Fridge in Early 2019

Texas Department of State Health Services
May 15, 2020

News Roundup: The Subversion of Justice at the Justice Department

Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Corrections, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana Office of the Governor, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Orleans Mayor's Office, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York City Office of the Mayor, New York Office of the Governor, New York State Department of Health, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, Small Business Administration, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, United States Postal Service, Wisconsin Elections Commission
May 8, 2020

News Roundup: Who Will Watch the Inspectors General?

Agency for International Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Civil Division, Criminal Division, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Election Commission, Georgia Attorney General, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Secretary of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Troup County - Georgia, U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard
May 1, 2020

News Roundup: Protecting the Right to Vote During a Pandemic

Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Arizona Department of Homeland Security, Arizona-Mexico Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Essex County - New Jersey, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Indiana Secretary of State, Iowa Secretary of State, Kentucky Secretary of State, Kentucky State Board of Elections, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, New Orleans, Office of Information Policy, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Attorney General, Texas Secretary of State, Wisconsin Elections Commission, Yuma County - Arizona
April 24, 2020

News Roundup: Miracle Drugs and Trump’s Alternate Reality

Albany-Dougherty County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chatham County - Georgia, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Cook County - Illinois, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Corrections, Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Department of Community Health, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County - Washington, Macon-Bibb County - Georgia, Muscogee County - Georgia, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Health Administration
April 17, 2020

News Roundup: Who Stands to Gain?

Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Reserve, Florida, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida Department of Health, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Office of the Governor, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, Small Business Administration, Tybee Island City - Georgia, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly
April 10, 2020

News Roundup: Corruption and Coronavirus

Agency for International Development, Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Indian Health Service, Justice Management Division, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Nevada Department of the Administration, Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, United States Secret Service
April 3, 2020

News Roundup: Whose Stockpile, and Which States?

Broward County - Florida, Bureau of Industry and Security, California Office of the Governor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Duval County - Florida, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Gadsden County - Florida, Hendry County - Florida, Jackson County - Florida, King County - Washington, Leon County - Florida, Miami-Dade County - Florida, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, New York Office of the Governor, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Ohio Office of the Governor, Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma Office of the Governor, Osceola County - Florida, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Washington Office of the Governor
March 27, 2020

News Roundup: Transparency and Oversight Are More Important Than Ever

Bartow County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Election Commission, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Florida Office of the Governor, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Security Division, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Tennessee Valley Authority, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, U.S. Marshals Service
March 20, 2020

News Roundup: Testing, Messaging and Missed Chances

Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Communications Commission, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Georgia Attorney General, Harris County - Texas, Nevada Department of the Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Texas Attorney General
March 17, 2020

Floridians with Prior Felonies Need to Pay Fines Before Voting — But Documents Reveal the State Can’t Properly Track What They Owe

Florida Department of State, Hernando County - Florida, Hillsborough County - Florida, Leon County - Florida, Martin County - Florida, Okaloosa County - Florida
March 6, 2020

News Roundup: Rising Coronavirus Fears and Sinking Public Trust

Administration for Children and Families, Agency for International Development, Briscoe County - Texas, Bureau of Land Management, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Criminal Division, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Reserve, Food and Drug Administration, Freestone County - Texas, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Hall County - Texas, Hill County - Texas, Hood County - Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jones County - Texas, Kendall County - Texas, King County - Washington, Lavaca County - Texas, Leon County - Texas, Limestone County - Texas, Loving County - Texas, Morris County - Texas, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Information Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Scurry County - Texas, Starr County - Texas, Swisher County - Texas, Texas Secretary of State, Veterans Health Administration, Victoria County - Texas, Washington State Department of Health
February 28, 2020

News Roundup: Launching Our Investigation of Trump’s Authoritarian Purges

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of State, Hillsborough County - Florida, Leon County - Florida, National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
February 26, 2020

New Lawsuit Seeks Information on Stephen Miller’s Involvement in Public Charge Rule

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor
February 21, 2020

News Roundup: The Post-Impeachment Purge and the Knock of Authoritarianism

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Secret Service
February 7, 2020

News Roundup: Acquittal Isn’t the End

Cobb County - Georgia, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Department of State, Florida Department of State, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Office of Management and Budget
January 31, 2020

News Roundup: Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Harris County - Texas, Texas Office of the Governor
January 6, 2020

In the Documents: Stephen Miller’s Emails with Top ICE Official

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
December 27, 2019

American Oversight’s 2019 in Review: Nine Important Stories We Uncovered

December 20, 2019

News Roundup: Beyond Impeachment — The Investigations Continue

Administration for Children and Families, Congress, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Government Accountability Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Management and Budget
December 13, 2019

News Roundup: Stephen Miller’s Extremist Network

Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Carroll County - Georgia, Congress, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Office of Management and Budget, Texas Attorney General
December 6, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment Report, Border Wall Contracts, and Pompeo’s Meeting with GOP Donors

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State
November 15, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment Inquiry Goes Public

Bartow County - Georgia, Carroll County - Georgia, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council on Environmental Quality, Dallas County - Texas, Decatur County - Georgia, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida House of Representatives, Georgia Secretary of State, Harris County - Texas, Lowndes County - Georgia, Paulding County - Georgia, Travis County - Texas
November 13, 2019

American Oversight Sues DHS for Cuccinelli Records

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
November 8, 2019

News Roundup: Ukraine-Related Documents, Hurdles for Asylum-Seekers, and Chad Wolf’s Involvement in Family Separation

Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Office of the Governor, Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Management and Budget
October 11, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment, Obstruction, and More Questions about Rick Perry

Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security
October 9, 2019

Early Trump Administration — and McAleenan — Communications About Immigration Policy

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
October 4, 2019

News Roundup: The Public Needs Answers

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State
September 13, 2019

News Roundup: Photos of Detention Centers for Migrant Children; Stephen Miller’s Hand in Immigration Policy

Administration for Children and Families, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, HHS Office of Inspector General, Small Business Administration
September 8, 2019

Photos from Inside Detention Centers for Migrant Children

Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, HHS Office of Inspector General
August 30, 2019

News Roundup: Remain in Mexico’s Harmful Effects and Trump’s Dangerous Impatience

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Senate, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Geological Survey
July 30, 2019

American Oversight Sues Justice Department over Brooklyn Jail’s Inhumane Winter Conditions

Department of Justice
July 19, 2019

News Roundup: Investigating the Fallout from Spring’s DHS Shakeup

Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Florida Office of the Governor, General Services Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tennessee Valley Authority
June 27, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security Doesn’t Know Where Trump Got Those Immigration Numbers, Either

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
June 18, 2019

Lawsuit Seeks Records to Shed Light on Deaths of Detainees in DHS Custody

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
June 13, 2019

Documents Reveal New Information About 2017 CBP Media Efforts

Customs and Border Protection
May 24, 2019

News Roundup: Congressional Hearing Shows and No-Shows

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Taylor County - Florida
May 17, 2019

News Roundup: Investigating State-Level Threats to Democracy

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida, Georgia, Texas
April 24, 2019

American Oversight and ACLU of Massachusetts Sue DHS for Border Security Plan

March 13, 2019

Two Years of American Oversight

February 15, 2019

News Roundup: Citizenship, the Census and the Constitution

Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice
February 1, 2019

News Roundup: More Troops at the Border Means More Questions for the Administration

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security
January 31, 2019

Lawsuit Seeks Emails of DOJ Official Involved in Controversial Civil Rights Decisions

Department of Justice
January 24, 2019

Checking Up on Trump’s Claims that Military Experts Told Him to Ban Transgender Troops

Department of Defense
January 18, 2019

News Roundup: Two Troubling Inspector General Reports

Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, General Services Administration
January 11, 2019

News Roundup: The Administration’s Misleading Claims About Terrorists at the Southern Border

Department of Homeland Security
December 27, 2018

Countdown to Oversight in 2019

December 12, 2018

Audit the Wall: No Plans, Funding or Timeline — And No Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State
December 5, 2018

American Oversight Sues Administration for Records of Family-Separation Policy

Administration for Children and Families, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, HHS Office of Inspector General, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
January 12, 2018

Justice Department Staffing Up For Its Ill-Conceived Affirmative Action Investigation

Department of Justice
January 2, 2018

New FOIAs Seek Records of Civil Rights Investigations at Department of Education

Department of Education
December 19, 2017

American Oversight Sues DOD to Uncover Truth Behind Trump’s Transgender Ban

Department of Defense
October 4, 2017

DOJ Confirms Harvard Affirmative Action Investigation

Department of Justice
September 7, 2017

DACA Announcement Reflects Lack of Seriousness About the Law

Department of Justice