Whistleblowers for Family Separation

A lawsuit was filed against the Trump administration for its “practice of refusing entry to asylum applicants… and its cruel and unlawful policy of forcibly separating families,” and on July 2nd, the suit was supplemented with a motion for expedited discovery and regular status conferences, which included personal testimonies.

While the government agencies involved in the family separations (including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have declined to comment to news agencies, whistleblowers on this subject must come forward. These employees are likely to have a deeper knowledge of the events, and thereby would be able to report if there is any illegal activity. The Office of Special Counsel can improve the federal government and its operations through detailed investigations; however a disclosure of wrongdoing is imperative to begin.

If a potential whistleblower is concerned about disclosing what they have witnessed, there are protections in place. Per the 2018 memos released by the Office of Special Counsel:

[F]ederal law generally prohibits personnel actions taken, not taken, or threatened against a federal employee because of the employee’s disclosure of information that he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Additionally, the OSC outlines various activities that may be unlawful, such as the monitoring of whistleblowers by their agencies. Agencies are not to retaliate against whistleblowers or monitor any of their communications for fear of disclosures. The OSC believes that “federal law should strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing” due to the positive impact of making disclosures.

To review the proper avenues to make a disclosure, potential whistleblowers should consult with a federal employment attorneyto evaluate their rights and assist in filing a whistleblower complaint.