Posted by Rawan Elbaba on December 22, 2016 in Blog

The Department of Homeland Security announced today its rescission of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program. DHS called for “the removal of regulations relating to special registration process for certain nonimmigrants.” With only a few weeks left in office, the dismantling of NSEERS by President Obama is powerful as it upends the incoming administration’s plans to revive the program. 

The Arab American Institute, along with over 200 coalition members have worked tirelessly towards dismantling NSEERS because of its discriminatory nature. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, NSEERS came into effect in 2002 targeting boys and men from 25 predominantly Muslim-majority or Arab countries. Although NSEERS was suspended in 2011 when countries under the NSEERS program were de-listed, it proved to be a flawed program that wasted government funding and resources and the regulatory framework that created it remained. From its inception in 2002 to its suspension in 2011, NSEERS failed to produce even a single terrorism conviction. The DHS statement suggested NSEERS “was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security.”

In the past fourteen years, over 13,000 men who registered were faced with deportation proceedings and fear that their families would be torn apart. Lives in our community were upended by a wasteful program that proved not only ineffective, but biased. If President-elect Trump, a proponent of programs like NSEERS, plans on registering travelers from Muslim-majority and Arab countries during his tenure at the White House, his administration would need to begin from square one. This powerful move from President Obama and the DHS seeks not only to dismantle NSEERS once and for all, but to also jolt Trump and his hardline anti-immigrant, anti-refugee policies. We welcome the administration’s decision and will continue working to oppose policies that target people based on religion or national origin.