Letter: House Republicans Request DHS Civil Rights Office Investigate Asylum Officer Who Celebrated October 7 Hamas Attack

By Jon Feere on November 9, 2023

A new letter from three Republican congressmen demands that the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) office in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launch an investigation of Nejwa Ali, an asylum adjudicator recently put on leave after a number of inflammatory social media posts in which she celebrated Hamas’s violent attack on October 7, 2023. It has been further revealed that the asylum adjudicator previously worked as a spokeswoman for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). As explained in greater detail in the New York Post:

On Oct. 9 — two days after more than 1,400 people were slaughtered in Israel — she posted a video captioned “F–k Israel and any Jew that supports Israel” and a photo that says: “A nation that has nothing but Allah has everything it will ever need.”

She also included an antisemitic cartoon of a Jewish nose.

Ali’s Facebook profile describes her as being from Dearborn, Michigan, a city with the largest Muslim population in the US.

“Palestine will be free one day,” she wrote on Instagram. “F–K APARTHEID Israel and any Israeli that supports that bull—t. F–k you, may Allah forgive you. and spare us the crocodile tears, I sure as hell give zero f–ks.”

While Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have announced the launch of their own investigation, a new letter from Reps. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.), Marcus Molinaro (R-N.Y.), and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) demands that DHS’s civil rights office conduct an investigation and report its findings to Congress. This is an important ask because it illustrates how Congress can (and should) use executive branch offices to carry out the mission Congress has designated for these offices in the first place.

All too often, Congress creates offices and then fails to ensure they are serving the purpose for which they were created. CRCL is perfect example of this, which is why the request for an investigation is so important. When DHS was created in 2003, Congress included a CRCL officer who was tasked with the duty to, among other things, “review and assess information concerning abuses of civil rights, civil liberties, and profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion, by employees and officials of the Department” and “review Department policies and procedures to ensure that the protection of civil rights and civil liberties is appropriately incorporated into Department programs and activities”.

Today, CRCL has developed into a 100-plus person office that is overly focused on immigration enforcement, viewing itself as playing an adversarial role against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While I was at ICE, one high-ranking CRCL career staffer told me that the office would never publicize its findings that ICE runs the 287(g) state-and-local cooperative program “quite well” because open-border advocates would question CRCL’s impartiality. This is an illogical position to take, and also a rejection of the slogan heard around the department that “We’re One DHS.” Like all parts of DHS, the CRCL office should be a fierce advocate of each agency’s mission, and in the case of ICE, it should proudly declare the successes of the 287(g) program. But it’s staffed with many career employees who once worked for anti-border activist groups and anti-enforcement members of Congress.

By getting CRCL to focus on the problematic asylum adjudicator, the new letter effectively forces CRCL to carry out its responsibilities and reveal the true opinions of those running the office. The current lead CRCL officer is an appointee of the Biden administration named Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, the former dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Penn State Law, who doesn’t think criminal illegal aliens with felony convictions should be deported. As she explained in a lecture: “I don’t know that any element of criminality should suffice [for making an illegal alien] a priority for enforcement, or even any felony for that matter.”

Wadhia has no background in oversight or agency management. She’s a “policy advocate” and a former lobbyist who seems to oppose most immigration enforcement. She’s clearly not a champion for DHS’s mission, and that’s why she was appointed to lead CRCL. The Biden administration is clearly of the mind that CRCL exists to frustrate immigration enforcement. Getting the office to focus on the asylum adjudicator is a step in the right direction. But Congress needs to always consider how CRCL and other offices and agencies can be used to promote congressional intent. As an example, Congress should have immediately required CRCL to conduct an investigation into the civil rights impact of the Biden administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board” created at DHS, the facts of which are still rolling in via FOIA inquiries from private organizations. CRCL should have been called up to Congress to testify on this highly controversial office and required to conduct an extensive investigation of its own.

As to the Hamas-supporting asylum adjudicator, the congressional letter is posted below. The congressmen who wrote the letter are seeking an answer on the “extent to which Ms. Ali’s work impacted the civil rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens”, and also “a review of all asylum applications handled” by her, which is to include the total number of applications handled by her, the countries of origin of the applicants, the approval and denial rates of these applicants, the reasoning for each denial, and a report on the potential impact on the civil rights and liberties of applicants. The congressmen are presumably seeking to determine if this employee has engaged in systematic discrimination against applicants and whether her adjudications have created a threat to America.

The congressmen have asked for a response within 30 days. Here is the letter.