WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is removing dormant government regulations that some fear could be used by President-elect Donald Trump to create his proposed Muslim registry.
The Department of Homeland Security filed a notice Thursday that it is “removing outdated regulations relating to an obsolete special registration program for certain nonimmigrants.”
The New York Times first reported the story.
The Bush administration used the Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems (NSEERS) program in 2002 and 2003, following the 9/11 terror attacks. It requires male foreigners over age 16 from 25 countries, of which 24 are majority Arab or Muslim, to register with U.S. immigration authorities.The Obama administration halted use of the program in 2011.
During the presidential campaign, Trump expressed support for a registry of Muslims and proposed a ban on immigration of Muslim individuals to the U.S. He later changed that proposal to a ban on the immigration of Muslims from countries whose citizens have been involved in terrorism against the U.S. or its allies.
“Although DHS retained the regulations that provide the NSEERS framework, subsequent experience has confirmed that NSEERS is obsolete, that deploying it would be inefficient and divert personnel and resources from alternative effective measures, and that the regulation authorizing NSEERS is unnecessary,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in the notice.
Trump has not laid out a detailed plan for his proposed immigration ban. He reiterated the plan though Wednesday, following the Berlin Christmas market attack and assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.
“You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right. 100 percent correct. What’s happening is disgraceful,” Trump told reporters at his West Palm Beach, Fla. resort, Mar-a-Lago, according to CNN. “It’s an attack on humanity. That’s what it is. An attack on humanity and it’s got to be stopped.”
Civil and human rights groups cheered the move.
“This is the right decision by Secretary Johnson. We commend him, and the White House, for letting it be known that such registry programs are futile and have no place in our country,” Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in a statement. “However the community cannot be at ease; the next administration has indicated that they will consider implementing similar programs. We will work twice as hard to protect our community and ensure such programs do not come to fruition.”