Washington, DC – In the wake of reports about the Trump Administration’s plans to create a special registration program for Muslims, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Representatives Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), led more than 50 House Democrats in calling for President Barack Obama to completely dismantle the regulatory framework behind the discriminatory National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) before his administration ends. The Obama Administration effectively ended the program in 2011; however, the apparatus remains. House Democrats are calling for the NSEERS regulatory framework to be eliminated.
Dear President Obama:
We urge you to rescind the regulatory framework behind the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) located at 8 CFR 264.1(f). While we commend your Administration for effectively ending the program in 2011, we believe that eliminating the apparatus of NSEERS is consistent with our country’s fundamental values of fairness and equality.
The NSEERS program was announced in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The most controversial portion of the NSEERS program involved a “domestic” registration system that targeted certain males who entered the United States on nonimmigrant visas from primarily Arab, Muslim-majority, African, and South Asian countries. The program was fundamentally flawed in its false assumption that people of a particular religion or nationality pose a greater national security risk and should be subject to racial profiling. The program is reminiscent of – and indeed has been compared to – the dark time in our history when innocent people were interned based on their Japanese ancestry.
When instituted in 2002, the program caused widespread and palpable fear in affected communities, separated families and caused much harm to people affected by it. Boys and men were required to register with local immigration offices, were interrogated, and subjected to serious due process violation. Communities saw family members and neighbors disappear in the middle of the night, held in overcrowded jails and deported without due process. More than 13,000 people were placed in removal proceedings, businesses closed down, and students were forced to leave school with degrees uncompleted.
In addition to the harm that NSEERS caused to communities, the program was ineffective as a counter-terrorism tool. A 2012 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General report found the program to be inefficient and a waste of resources, costing American taxpayers more than $10 million annually. The report characterized the data collected through the program as unreliable. No known terrorism convictions have resulted from the program.
We stand together in opposition to policies that would target people based on their religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. We urge the Administration to immediately rescind the NSEERS regulation as a re-affirmation of its commitment to equal protection under the law.
The letter was signed by Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Allen Lowenthal (D-CA), James A Himes (D-CT), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), David E. Price (D-NC), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), James McGovern (D-MA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mark Takano (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), and Michael F. Doyle (D-PA).
The actual letter is available here.