Obama administration kills program Trump could use to register Muslim, Arab immigrants

Obama administration kills program Trump could use to register Muslim, Arab immigrants
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

On Thursday, the Obama administration officially ended the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a program designed with the intent of tracking Muslim and Arab immigrants to the United States following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. 

NSEERS hasn't been in use since 2011, when the Obama administration suspended the program indefinitely, but only by vacating all the countries-of-origin from the registry, not actually striking the program.

By completely dismantling NSEERS, rather than simply suspending it, the Obama administration is sending a signal to President-elect Donald Trump that they don't want to be tied to any of the incoming administration's possible tracking or targeting of Muslim immigrants — something Trump campaigned heavily on during his race for the White House.

Opponents of NSEERS, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had campaigned to get the Obama administration to fully dismantle the program before Trump took office.

NSEERS opponents said the program did not prevent any terror attacks, and instead targeted and led to the unfair deportation of Muslims and Arabs in the United States.

"Although NSEERS was conceived as a program to prevent terrorist attacks, among the tens of thousands of people forced to register, the government did not achieve a single terrorism-related conviction," the ACLU wrote in a May 2011 blog post, when NSEERS was initially suspended. "NSEERS proved completely ineffective as a counterterrorism tool while failing to give proper notice to many of its targets and often violating their right to counsel. This led to the deportations of thousands of men and boys from Arab- and Muslim-majority countries for civil immigration violations that were frequently based simply on a failure to understand NSEERS' arcane rules."

Trump, for his part, has met with the one of NSEERS' authors, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, reportedly for a possible job in his administration. 

When Kobach met with Trump in late November about a Department of Homeland Security job, he was conspicuously carrying a plan for the department that photographers were able to capture. The first agenda item: "Update and reintroduce the NSEERS screening and tracking system."


During his campaign, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims immigrating to the United States. The statement disappeared from Trump's website shortly after the election, only to quickly reappear.

Trump himself hasn't backed away from that idea, telling reporters who asked whether he is still considering both a Muslim registry and Muslim immigration ban, "You know my plans."

Trump's team, however, says the ban won't be based on religion but rather whether someone comes from regions of the world where Islamist extremism exists, a broad definition.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

MORE FROM

White House boots press from ethically questionable Trump International Hotel fundraiser

Trump escalated his war with the national media on Wednesday, kicking them out of his first re-election fundraiser.

Donald Trump claims immigration crackdown is "liberating towns" from gangs

But what Trump said just doesn't shake up.

Trump is already using James O'Keefe's CNN sting video to raise money for 2020

He also helped fund the group that made the video.

As White House election integrity panel begins work, civil rights watchdogs set up a hotline

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says the Trump panel is "a dog whistle" for voter suppression.

Ethics group sues for Trump International Hotel records ahead of Republican Party fundraiser

American Oversight seeks communications between the Trump Organization and the government.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO. Then the EPA changed course on a pesticide ban.

Scott Pruitt announced this week that the EPA will not ban a common pesticide sold by Dow Chemical.

White House boots press from ethically questionable Trump International Hotel fundraiser

Trump escalated his war with the national media on Wednesday, kicking them out of his first re-election fundraiser.

Donald Trump claims immigration crackdown is "liberating towns" from gangs

But what Trump said just doesn't shake up.

Trump is already using James O'Keefe's CNN sting video to raise money for 2020

He also helped fund the group that made the video.

As White House election integrity panel begins work, civil rights watchdogs set up a hotline

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says the Trump panel is "a dog whistle" for voter suppression.

Ethics group sues for Trump International Hotel records ahead of Republican Party fundraiser

American Oversight seeks communications between the Trump Organization and the government.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO. Then the EPA changed course on a pesticide ban.

Scott Pruitt announced this week that the EPA will not ban a common pesticide sold by Dow Chemical.