When the report was published, many scholars and journalists criticized it.

Think tank scholars

The Heritage Foundation’s David Inserra:

We must identify and understand the nature of the threat if we are to develop public policy that effectively addresses it. To do this, we need better, accurate data from the Trump administration

Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh:

The new DHS/DOJ report produces little new information on immigration and terrorism and portrays some misleading and meaningless statistics as important findings.

New America’s David Sterman:

Even at face value, the report’s data reveals a substantial homegrown extremism challenge. By the report’s own numbers, a majority of the examined individuals were citizens and more than a quarter were natural-born citizens.

The Washington Institute’s Matthew Levy:

But it is simply not true to say that the “vast majority” of individuals convicted of terrorism offenses were foreign-born—unless one includes in that number those foreign terrorists who do not enter the country of their own volition at all but were extradited to the United States specifically to be prosecuted. If one included both domestic and international terrorism cases in the data set, it would show that only 18 to 21 percent of all individuals convicted of terrorism offenses were foreign-born.

Fact Checkers

The Washington Post Fact Checker’s Salvador Rizzo

First, Trump misrepresents the report that serves as the basis of his claim. It focuses only on international and not domestic terrorism. The president conflates the two and gives the impression that the figures he cites apply for all kinds of terrorism. Second, the report raises several questions because of its lack of detail, its artful math and its inclusion of a significant number of individuals who did not immigrate but were transported to the United States to be prosecuted.


Lisa Daniels, Nora Ellingsen, Benjamin Wittes in Lawfare:

Put simply, the report presents the Justice Department’s data in a deceptive light—and the data still don’t support the president’s words. That’s because those words aren’t true, and true data even deceptively presented can’t support them.

Michael German, former FBI special agent now with New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice:

This kind of bureaucratic manipulation of what should be objective, professional analysis is what undermines confidence in these institutions.

The Brennan Center’s Harsha Panduranga at Just Security:

To buttress the president’s xenophobic and costly anti-immigration proposals, like the travel ban, the report rests on a bedrock of questionable statistics manipulated to frame foreign-born people – including American citizens – as “serious and persistent terror threat[s].”


Help Protect Democracy

History has shown that the best way to protect democracy is by standing united in its defense. Your contribution will help us to scale up our efforts to educate, advocate, organize, and litigate on behalf of the values we all hold dear.


Be an informed American.

An engaged and informed public is at the heart of American democracy. Sign up to receive updates that will keep us all informed about the threats we face and how we can fight to protect our democracy together.