Protect Democracy and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Reverend Kaji Douša, challenging a previously secret Department of Homeland Security (DHS) surveillance operation that targeted activists, journalists, lawyers, and faith leaders who spoke out against the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Rev. Douša sued DHS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the people leading these agencies to stop their unlawful retaliation against her for providing pastoral services to migrants and refugees—a central calling of her Christian faith.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the actions targeting First Amendment rights as unlawful and asks for a permanent injunction against the government to stop surveilling, detaining, interrogating, or acting unlawfully against Rev. Douša, both immediately and in the future, and in retaliation for how, when, and where she exercises her religion.
In 2018, Rev. Douša helped organize the “Sanctuary Caravan,” a mobile clinic of faith leaders to deliver pastoral services, such as prayer and church-blessed marriage ceremonies, to migrants seeking asylum in the United States. In December 2018, Rev. Douša traveled to Mexico to join the Sanctuary Caravan. But upon attempting to return to the United States, federal officials detained and interrogated Rev. Douša. She later learned that DHS had targeted her for heightened surveillance and revocation of her clearance for expedited border crossing.
For all people targeted by this government surveillance program—dubbed “Operation Secure Line”—their only shared connection is their work to aid, counsel, minister to, and provide information about migrants.
DHS’s punitive actions have had both a tangible and chilling effect on Rev. Douša’s right to practice her Christian faith and minister her faith to others. And these actions are not only undemocratic, but also illegal under the U.S. Constitution.
Protect Democracy will continue to stand up against government harassment of and retaliation against dissenters and those who associate with marginalized communities.
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