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November 22, 2016

Groups Urge Obama to Rescind Framework for “Muslim Registry”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: (202) 386-6408
Email: [email protected]

Washington, DC – A group of nearly 200 organizations including NIAC Action called on the Obama Administration today to rescind the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). Although the NSEERS program was suspended in 2011 by President Obama, its regulatory framework remains in place and could be quickly revived by the Trump Administration.

“Unless this program is rescinded, the Trump administration will come into office with a framework already in place to quickly implement a so-called Muslim registry,” said NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi. “This discriminatory framework must be removed before it can be exploited and innocent people are targeted.”

Following Election Day, top Trump surrogates have called for a “Muslim registry” to be implemented within the new administration’s first 100 days. The architect of the NSEERS program, Kris Kobach, said policy advisers on the Trump transition team were preparing an official proposal to implement a registry. Carl Higbie, spokesperson for Great Again PAC, seemed to justify expanding such a program by favorably citing Japanese internment camps during World War II, saying “We’ve done it in the past based on race, based on religion, and based on region.”

“The NSEERS program should be repealed regardless of the circumstances but it would be particularly irresponsible to leave it on the books considering what the next administration is saying,” said Abdi. “Giving the next administration the benefit of the doubt to do the right thing is no longer an option when you have top surrogates comparing their plans to Japanese American internment camps.”

The NSEERS program was first implemented by the George W. Bush administration following the events of 9/11. Iranians were among the “first wave” of visitors who were targeted under the program, along with visitors from Iraq, Libya and Sudan. The program did not lead to a single terrorist prosecution but did lead to the detainment of thousands of people who reported voluntarily under the program – including individuals awaiting the adjudication of legal claims for permanent residency – and over 13,000 deportations.

NSEERS initially required that non-citizen visa holders from Muslim-majority countries to register at points of entry and be subject to fingerprinting and interrogation. It was then expanded to require males from targeted countries over the age of sixteen who were in the U.S. to register. That element of the program was phased out after six months, and the program itself was replaced under the Bush Administration and suspended under the Obama Administration. The program targeted populations from twenty-five countries, twenty-four of which were “Muslim-majority” countries.
 

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