Yesterday, Commissioners Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow sent a letter explaining why they had declined to vote for a controversial letter dated January 22, 2016 sent by the six other members of the Commission to President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

The original Commission letter called upon the Obama Administration to "cease immediately the raids currently being carried out by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (”ICE”) against Central American refugees.” 

The most eye-catching part of the original Commission letter was its reliance upon an article in Russia Today -- a Russian-government funded media organization that has been called “Putin’s magnificent messaging machine”—for its facts.  In relying upon Russia Today, the Commission letter implicitly rejected word of the Department of Homeland Security, whose description of its actions differed from Russia Today’s.  RT meanwhile returned the favor by publishing an article that approvingly cited the Commission letter. 

Heriot & Kirsanow had this comment on the Commission’s ill-considered action:

“This is unacceptable.  To give just a taste of Russia Today’s past missteps, we note that it is infamous for airing conspiracy theories that the United States was behind the September 11 attacks;  for suggesting that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is secretly the “Illuminati” candidate; for featuring an obviously forged document in which RAND Corporation officials supposedly advised Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to ethnically cleanse eastern Ukraine, bomb it heavily and place locals in internment camps; suggesting that the Rothschilds were behind the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370; and for airing the prophecies of fringe authors who stated that there was a 55% chance of civil war and that the United States would dissolve into six territories by 2010.“ 

Rather than jumping to conclusions about the legality and propriety of the administration's recent enforcement actions,  the Heriot-Kirsanow letter requested that Homeland Security give more information about the relevant cases. 

Disclosure: I am Gail Heriot's special assistant and counsel at the Commission. I helped Commissioner Heriot with research and drafting for this letter. This blog post reflects my views and my views alone; it does not necessarily represent those of Commissioner Heriot or the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.