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Legal Sanctions Sought to Hold Federal Government Accountable for Misrepresentations to Court

Reverend Kaji Douša has moved to sanction the Department of Homeland Security for misrepresentations to the court and other litigation misconduct in her lawsuit challenging DHS’s unlawful surveillance operation retaliating against her and other advocates and journalists because of their protected First Amendment activity.

Rev. Douša filed this case because she learned that DHS targeted her for heightened surveillance and revoked her Trusted Traveler Program clearance for expedited border crossing after she provided pastoral care and humanitarian assistance to migrants at the southern border in late 2018. The U.S. government repeatedly claimed—including in a sworn declaration a supervising Customs and Border Protection official submitted in court—that it had never revoked or suspended Rev. Douša. The court relied on this sworn statement as a key factual justification for denying Rev. Douša’s motion for preliminary injunction.

Yet documents the government eventually and belatedly produced flatly contradict this claim. Document evidence—including emails the CBP official who signed the government’s declaration wrote and received—demonstrate that DHS in fact suspended Rev. Douša’s Trusted Traveler status while the Department investigated her. 

The U.S. government attorneys defending DHS further failed to take any action to correct the record upon learning that its sworn declaration was false—or, at best, highly misleading.  

The government’s declarant in Rev. Douša’s case was the same CBP official that, as the DHS Office of Inspector General found, “inappropriately” asked the Mexican government to deny entry to two dozen individuals associated with the 2018 Central American migrant caravan, transmitting unencrypted private information for the listed individuals, including Rev. Douša and 13 other U.S. citizens. The CBP official admitted that this was a baseless request.

In asking the court to impose appropriate sanctions on DHS, Rev. Douša seeks meaningful accountability for the prejudicial wrongdoing in her case and, more broadly, deterrence against future abuses by the government, a repeat litigant in a position of public trust.