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Transparency Tools for Immigration Justice Activists

  • Open Gov Hub 1110 Vermont Avenue Northwest Suite 500 Washington, DC, 20005 United States (map)

Presented by the Government Accountability Project & Open The Government

Sponsored by Open Gov Hub as part of the Whistleblower Workshop Series (see other events in the series here).

This training workshop will offer insights to immigration justice activists on how to safely and effectively maximize the potential of two important tools for transparency: whistleblowers and FOIA.

Employees who have provided information to journalists and advocates about the effects of the Administration’s family separation and detention policies at the Southern border—from audio tapes released from inside detention centers and childcare facilities to those who have reported the enforcement of “no hugging” policies—have been essential to challenging gross abuses of power leveraged against immigrants. These employees –whistleblowers—through the power of information, galvanized public outrage, pressured Congress, and catalyzed volunteer and financial support to public interest organizations providing direct service and waging legal battles.


In a political climate hostile to not only immigrant communities and human rights but truth and open government, whistleblowers inside immigration enforcement agencies or their contractors are essential to protecting the most vulnerable and demanding government accountability. Complimenting the power of inside information, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is also a critical investigative tool for journalists and organizations to amplify and expand on a whistleblower’s disclosures to advance policy advocacy.


Unsurprisingly, employees who reveal misconduct committed by their colleagues or superiors frequently suffer reprisal, and as this administration seeks to chill employee speech and vows to crackdown on whistleblowers, they are particularly vulnerable.


There are important whistleblower protection laws that provide remedies for employees who suffer retaliation for disclosing information that evidences abuses, legal violations or dangers to health or safety. In addition, creative advocacy and litigation strategies can address the underlying disclosures that prompt employees to speak up in the first place.


This training will offer immigrant justice advocates key insights and practice tips for working effectively with whistleblowers in order to turn their information into power and access new records through freedom of information laws while ensuring the employees are not harmed in the course of advocacy. Attendees will learn and exchange ideas about:

  • How whistleblowers from immigration enforcement agencies and contractors have been key in exposing abuse and helping advocacy campaigns

  • Basics about the legal rights and vulnerabilities of government and corporate whistleblowers

  • How to minimize reprisal risks to whistleblowers and to your organization

  • The pros and cons of keeping a source anonymous

  • How to use FOIA strategically and safely to expand on a whistleblower’s disclosure

  • How to use collaborative FOIA efforts to access information and fuel advocacy campaigns



Dana Gold, Director of Education, Government Accountability Project

Jesse Franzblau, Policy Analyst with Open the Government

Zack Kopplin, Investigator, Government Accountability Project

*Immigration advocate, to be determined


About GAP: The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, having represented or advised over 8,000 whistleblowers since 1977. GAP serves as an important lifeline for whistleblowers, helping them hold government and corporate institutions accountable by verifying their concerns and presenting problems to public officials, advocacy groups and journalists, and seeking justice if they suffer reprisal. In addition, GAP has drafted, spearheaded the campaigns to pass or helped defend all the federal whistleblower protection laws that exist today, and have established best practice standards for domestic and international whistleblower policies.

About OTG: Open the Government is an inclusive, nonpartisan coalition that works to strengthen our democracy and empower the public by advancing policies that create a more open, accountable, and responsive government. OTG brings together groups to facilitate coordination between advocates and open government experts on ways to increase access to information and best utilize the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OTG regularly conducts coalition strategy meetings and roundtable discussions to identify secrecy challenges and plan collective calls for government transparency.