WASHINGTON – Today, the Obama administration announced that it would dismantle the regulatory framework behind the dormant National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).
Created in the wake of September 11, 2001, NSEERS required non-immigrant nationals from twenty-five countries, including Iran, to undergo “special registration procedures.” The controversial domestic call-in registration portion of the program took a tremendous toll on the affected families and communities leading to arbitrary detentions and mass deportations.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ceased use of NSEERS more than five years ago, after it was determined the program was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security,” said Neema Hakim, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security in a statement.
Nevertheless, the regulatory structure of NSEERS was in place until today, and the incoming Trump administration had reportedly discussed the reinstatement and expansion of the program as a de-facto Muslim registry of some immigrants based on national origin.
In response to these reports, over 50 House Democrats have called on the Obama administration to rescind NSEERS. Last month, PAAIA joined a coalition of nearly two hundred advocacy, civil rights, and inter-faith organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in writing a letter urging the Obama administration to permanently dismantle to the program.
Rescinding the NSEERS program ensures that the current regulatory framework cannot be used to target communities based on national origin and religion. However, it does not mean that the program, or something similar to it, cannot be revived in the future.
As such, we will remain vigilant and work with our coalition partners to push back against any measures that are counterintuitive to our national security and target innocent individuals and families.