Judicial Watch Files FOIA Lawsuit for Obama Administration Refugee Documents
DECEMBER 14, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records between the U.S. Department of State and voluntary agencies regarding refugees arriving in the United States (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No 1:15-cv-02030)).
The lawsuit was filed after the State Department failed to respond to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted on May 22, 2015, and September 14, 2015.
The FOIA request submitted on May 22, 2015, seeks records of:
- All Cooperation Agreements for the years 2014 and 2015 between the Department of State and the voluntary agencies involved in providing reception and placement services to refugees arriving in the United States.
- All Reception and Placement abstracts for the years 2014 and 2015 furnished to the Department of State by voluntary agencies, entities subcontracting to voluntary agencies, or entities affiliated with voluntary agencies regarding the provision of reception and placement services to refugees arriving in the United States.
- All transcripts of hearings held in 2014 and 2015 by the Department of State with representatives from voluntary agencies, entities subcontracting to voluntary agencies, entities affiliated with voluntary agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services, and/or the Office of Refugee Settlement regarding the provision of reception and placement services to refugees arriving in the United States.
- All comments submitted to the State Department by members of the public at the hearings identified in Bullet 3 above.
All records reflecting the number of refugees, their countries of origin, and destinations in the United States in which they were settled by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) through R&P programs for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015.
The second FOIA request, submitted September 14, 2015, seeks records of:
- All records regarding a meeting held on August 25, 2015 in Spartanburg, South Carolina between representatives from the State Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement and/or Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and representatives from the non-profit organization known as World Relief. Records sought shall include, but not be limited to, notices of the meeting, meeting agenda, transcripts, recordings, materials presented by World Relief, multimedia presentations, abstracts, contracts and any other materials.
Judicial Watch is investigating the Obama administration’s Refugee and Resettlement program which plans to bring an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States in 2016, and even more in 2017. Obama is pressing ahead with his plan even as Syrian refugees have been implicated in the Paris terrorist attacks in which 129 people were killed and 350 were wounded. The Obama administration is working in conjunction with The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to settle these individuals all across the U.S. The federal government contracts with non-profits and other entities to settle and provide financial payments to refugees. Many states are refusing to participate in this refugee resettlement program as a result of the Paris attacks. The Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit seeks documents that detail much of the federal spending and other details about the refugee program. (World Relief is a federal contractor that settles refugees in South Carolina. South Carolina’s governor and other elected officials recently objected to any attempt to settle Syrian refugees there.)
A number of Somalian refugees or their children have left the United States to fight for ISIS. One of these refugees is reportedly tied to the San Bernardino terrorist attack and many refugees have already been arrested on terrorism charges.
The U.S. plans to spend $1.56 billion on resettlement in fiscal 2015 — up from $587 million a decade ago. Among other benefits, each refugee will receive $1,000 in spending money once they are here.
“The Obama administration doesn’t want Americans to know about how it places refugees from terrorist states in their local communities,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The fact we had to file a federal lawsuit to obtain basic information about Obama’s dangerous refugee plans should tell Americans (and Congress) that the Obama administration has something to hide about refugees, terrorism, and national security.”