DHS Department of Homeland Security Police

In July 2019, 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. 

On March 21, 2023, a federal court ruled in Rev. Douša’s favor, finding that the federal law enforcement agencies violated her fundamental rights of free exercise and free speech. In his decision, Judge Todd W. Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California wrote that “CBP unlawfully retaliated against [Pastor Douša] for her protected First Amendment activity, violated her Free Exercise right to minister to migrants in Mexico, and violated the [Religious Freedom and Restoration Act] when [CBP official] Oliveri emailed Mexican authorities…that ‘there exist[ed] a great possibility that [she] d[id] ]not have adequate documentation to be in Mexico’ and that she should be ‘den[ied]…entry to Mexico’ and ‘sent[t] back to the United States.’” The court concluded that “no credible claim of legitimacy can be made” for sending and writing this email, which even its author admitted was, “[l]iterally, creative writing…[w]ithout any basis.”

The court also ordered CBP to promptly inform the Mexican government that their requests for Pastor Douša to be denied entry and returned to the United States are “fully and immediately rescinded and revoked.”



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. Rev. Douša traveled to Mexico to join the Sanctuary Caravan. All of her activities were protected by the Constitution and federal law. 

Nevertheless, DHS retaliated against Pastor Douša—going so far as lying to Mexican officials in a request that they detain her. As a result of their work to aid, counsel, minister to, and provide information about migrants, Rev. Douša was one of several people targeted by this government surveillance program—dubbed “Operation Secure Line.” These adverse actions caused her to curtail her activities in the United States and to cease her ministry in Mexico altogether.

Misusing law enforcement to target dissenters and those who offer comfort to marginalized communities is fundamentally at odds with a democratic society. Protect Democracy will continue to stand up against such abuses of power.

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