Obama to Rescind Rules for Dormant Immigrant Registry

December 22, 2016

The Obama administration is undoing the regulatory framework for a dormant registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups -- acting before a Trump administration can revive it, The New York Times reported.

The program in question is the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks and which at one point mandated special registration requirements for individuals coming from 25 countries, most of which had majority-Muslim populations and were located in Africa or the Middle East. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Neema Hakim, said in a statement quoted by the Times that the department “ceased use of NSEERS more than five years ago, after it was determined the program was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security.”

A member of Trump’s transition team and the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, had floated the possibility of restarting the registry. President-elect Donald J. Trump has called for increased screening of individuals coming from regions with "a history of exporting terrorism."

Nearly 200 civil rights and other organizations wrote a letter to President Obama in November calling on him to undo the regulatory framework for the NSEERS program, describing it as “ineffective as a counterterrorism tool” and a “discriminatory policy that ran counter to the fundamental American values of fairness and equal protection. Rescinding the regulatory framework of the program will ensure that our nation does not target communities based on national origin and faith in the future.”

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