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Obama makes it Harder for Trump to Create a Muslim Registry

Obama makes it Harder for Trump to Create a Muslim Registry
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As I wrote Thursday, the Obama Administration has been busy setting up roadblocks to make it harder for Trump to make true on his campaign promises. 

His latest move was to cancel the long-dormant National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) – a post 9/11 program set up to track and deport Muslim men – to prevent Donald Trump from resurrecting it in order to enforce “extreme vetting” on visitors from Muslim-majority nations. 

When fully operational, NSEERS limited the time Muslim men could spend in the country and forced them to hand over extended information about where they planned to stay. The goal of the program was to track potential terrorists and catch those who stayed in the country after their visas expired. 

“Keeping NSEERS out of Trump’s hands was the right thing to do,” says lawyer and immigration advocate David Leopold. 

NSEERS targeted visitors from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Libya, but the Bush Administration also kept tabs on male visitors from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen. The program applied to visitors from 25 countries, 24 of which were Muslim majority nations. More than 80,000 men and boys registered before the program was abandoned in 2011. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has determined that the NSEERS model for border vetting and security, which focused on designated nationalities for special processing, it outmoded,” said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. 

“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 DHS spokesperson Neema Hakim. 

“Back then, we had no entry-exit tracking and no way of knowing which of the people admitted from risky areas had departed. Now we have a biographic matching system, so it’s probably not necessary to re-create NSEERS in the same form,” says enforcement advocate Jessica Vaughan. 

Even so, slashing NSEERS will force Trump to set up a completely new program – a longer and more difficult process than modifying the existing program. 

“With this action, the US is on the right path to protect Muslim and Arab immigrants from discrimination,” says Joanna Lin of the American Civil Liberties Union, pointing out that NSEERS “didn’t yield a single terrorism conviction in nearly a decade.” 

Trump has suggested that insufficient vetting programs are partially to blame for the rising terror threat in the US and Europe. After Monday’s attack in Berlin, Trump told the press, “You know my plans.” 

Author’s Note: Registries are generally a bad idea. If we have to watch people that closely, they shouldn’t be here in the first place. And American citizens – innocent until proven guilty – should not be tracked separately by the government.

Editor’s note:  It is not the job of the government to surveill its citizens. The second amendment was written with the idea that the government should be afraid of the people not the other way around. And yes, we should not invite or allow anyone into our country who are sufficiently suspicious that a registry would be needed. This is one of the few instances where I agree with Obama’s actions. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

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