DHS Admits One Or Twelve Tiny Oopsies, We Mean 'Lying To Judge.' Is That Okay?

Legal

(Acting) Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has out-douched himself yet again. On a day when his office was forced to send a humiliating letter to Judge Jesse M. Furman admitting that they've been lying for months about their basis for excluding New York residents from the Trusted Traveler Program, Wolf is nonetheless trumpeting his big win and excoriating the state for jeopardizing national security.

"The Green Light Law ultimately undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers, criminalizing their mission to secure the nation and the American people from threats and furthering the risk to their own lives," he says, miraculously immune from lightning strike by a just deity who has had it up to here with Chad and his shit. "When jurisdictions like New York fail to cooperate with federal authorities, they operate more like refuges from criminal behavior, not sanctuary havens."

He really is a right royal dickbag.


We wrote you up this weedsy dive into the issue back in February, but in essence DHS tried to boot New York residents out of a set of programs that allow faster transit of US borders after the state refused to allow the agency to go trawling through its driver's license database looking for undocumented residents to deport. The case was always bullshit, since Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) applicants need a valid passport, must submit to a criminal background check, and do not have to present a driver's license to be eligible for the program. Donald Trump said in his state of the union address that he was going to punish "sanctuary states," and the very next day DHS kicked New York out of TTP ā€” it wasn't subtle.

There was also the little issue of New York Attorney General Letitia James suing Trump and trying to get her hands on his tax returns. And in case there was confusion over whether the TTP decision was payback, here's what the president tweeted as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was headed to the White House for a meeting about DHS's decision.

Again, not subtle. So the state of New York sued DHS in February. And then, for reasons we all understand, the issue of international travel became suddenly moot when the entire world shut its doors to American citizens.

Yesterday the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, which is representing Chad Wolf and the DHS in this shitshow, was forced to "write respectfully to correct several statements in defendants' briefs and declarations, and to withdraw defendants' motion to dismiss, Dkt. Nos. 29-30,1 and motion for summary judgment, Dkt. Nos. 67-68, along with the materials submitted in support of those motions." That is lawtalk for "Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Our clients fed us a pack of lies, and we put them in the filings, please don't kill us, Your Honor." The letter also informed the court that New York residents would be readmitted to the Trusted Traveler program "effective immediately," more or less a complete surrender by the government.

DHS had maintained that no other state barred the agency from accessing driver's license information, and that there was relevant information in that database which DHS could not get somewhere else. Except, ooopsie, that wasn't actually the case.

"Last Friday afternoon, July 17, DHS advised this Office that those statements and representations are inaccurate in some instances and give the wrong impression in others," SDNY wrote to Judge Furman. Turns out that "several states, the District of Columbia, and a territory" retained access to the TTP program while taking the exact same position on state-held information as New York.

Moreover, DHS allowed California to use the same workaround that New York had proposed to permit access to some criminal information while preventing the feds from fishing through its data at will. So Chad Wolf's assertions that anything less than full compliance by New York imperiled national security was belied by his own agency's policies, a discrepancy he explained by blaming his employees, saying "it does not appear that those agreements were vetted by DHS's headquarters, as is required under the One DHS Policy."

Admitting that your entire case is mendacious bullshit, while insisting that you can't be held responsible for your staff's actions is not a great look for the guy perched atop a 240,000 person cabinet-level agency. Even if you're just there in an acting capacity, since everyone else got fired and submitting your name to Congress is a non-starter, since you'd have to answer questions under oath about possible crimes against humanity and violations of American law.

And not for nothing, but just two months ago Judge Furman sanctioned the DOJ for failing to disclose evidence in the Census case about inclusion of the citizenship question. So he might not look entirely kindly on this late-in-the-game admission that the government has once again wasted his time on trumped up nonsense.

[Letter to Judge Furman]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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