Before Trump Takes Office, Obama Dumps Muslim Immigration Registry
The Obama administration has decided to terminate a post-9/11 program that requires a registry of immigrant men from "predominantly Muslim countries." Notably, the program has not been used since 2011. The reason for jettisoning the program: a top Trump advisor has intimated the program may restart under the president-elect.
The decision to end the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERs, comes amid growing international terror fears and Trump's suggestions that he could ban Muslim immigrants from the United States. After a truck attack killed 12 in a Christmas market in Berlin this week, Trump told reporters, "You know my plans."
The program's elimination could make it more complicated for Trump's administration to launch its own registration system for Muslims.
Kris Kobach, Kansas' secretary of State and close Trump advisor, supports such a registry program.
Meeting Trump in New York, Kobach carried a document labeled "Department of Homeland Security Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days." It listed an NSEERS reboot as the top priority. Kobach helped draft the program while working at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.
The registration system started about a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, requiring men and boys from a variety of mostly Middle Eastern countries to register with the federal government upon their arrival in the United States. Such people already in the country had to register with immigration authorities inside the U.S.
Registration, which also applied to immigrants from North Korea, included fingerprints and photographs. People also were required to notify the government if they changed addresses.
The program has come under fire from civil liberties groups like the ACLU, which said the program was a "failed counterterrorism tool and massive profiling program that didn't yield a single terrorism conviction in nearly a decade."
"With this action, the U.S. is on the right path to protect Muslim and Arab immigrants from discrimination," said Joanne Lin, the organization's senior legislative counsel.
The Obama administration instead preferred another program that collected bio-metric data from foreigners entering the U.S.