The Trump administration has acknowledged for the first time that its highly-scrutinized January 2018 analysis suggesting a causal link between immigration and acts of terrorism "could be criticized" as misleading, but now refuses to retract or correct the report, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
The controversial 11-page document -- issued last year by the Justice and Homeland Security departments in the midst of a protracted fight over certain immigration policies criticized by President Donald Trump -- claimed that 73% of those convicted of "international terrorism-related charges" since September 11, 2001, were "foreign-born."
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But the report failed to detail how many individuals committed acts of terrorism abroad (and were only later brought to the US for prosecution) -- leaving a misleading impression they were mostly immigrants.
It also never accounted for how many foreign nationals were radicalized only after entering the US and did not include individuals convicted of domestic terrorism-related offenses.
In a December 21 letter, the Justice Department admitted that the "information in the report could be criticized by some readers" and it should "strive to minimize the potential for misinterpretation."
The letter, first reported by The Washington Post, was sent to several government watchdog groups that have sued seeking a correction or retraction under federal law.
But DOJ ultimately concluded, however, it was "reasonably transparent in its presentation of information" and, as a result, the report "should not be withdrawn or corrected."
"The Department appreciates the suggestion that disaggregating information about foreign nationals brought to the United States for prosecution for terrorism-related offenses committed outside the United States, and providing a more thorough discussion of the limitations of the data presented, would further promote the perception of objectivity in the presentation of the information," wrote Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Planning Michael Allen.
The groups had also criticized the inclusion of eight "illustrative examples" of individuals who entered the US through family members or the diversity immigrant visa system -- policies Trump has denounced.
On that issue, the Justice Department said their inclusion in the analysis "could cause some readers of the report to question its objectivity" and recognized that "the objectivity and transparency of future reports could be enhanced by releasing the underlying data ... and could provide readers with more complete information from which to draw their own conclusions."