WASHINGTON – On December 2nd, House Democrats wrote a letter calling on President Obama to permanently dismantle the regulatory framework behind the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) before his administration ends.
Created in the wake of September 11, 2001, NSEERS required non-immigrant nationals from twenty-five countries, including Iran, to undergo “special registration procedures” during entry and exit from the United States.
The controversial domestic call-in registration portion of the program took a tremendous toll on the affected families and communities. A 2004 investigative analysis from the Iranian American Bar Association found substantial evidence of improper interrogations, arbitrary detention decisions, poor detention conditions, and demeaning treatment by INS officials.
NSEERS proved to be an unsuccessful anti-terrorism tool and a discriminatory policy. Citing issues with efficiency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended the program by de-listing the countries required to undergo NSEERS screening in 2011.
Nevertheless, the regulatory structure of the program remains in place, and the incoming Trump administration has reportedly discussed the reinstatement of a national registry as part of the “extreme vetting” of some Muslim immigrants.
In response to these reports, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Representatives Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) authored a letter calling on President Obama to permanently rescind the NSEERS regulatory framework.
Signed by 51 members of Congress, the letter states: “We stand together in opposition to policies that would target people based on their religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. We urge the Administration to immediately rescind the NSEERS regulation as a re-affirmation of its commitment to equal protection under the law.”
Rescinding the NSEERS program ensures the incoming Trump administration cannot use the current regulatory framework to target communities based on national origin and religion.