DHS Removes Countries from Special Registration List, But Leaves Door Open for Future Placements

Written by on April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized with 2 Comments

This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will remove all countries from the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). Previously, nonimmigrant travelers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen were forced to comply with special registration requirements, including providing fingerprints, a photograph, and any additional information required by DHS to DHS officials at the time the nonimmigrant applies for admission at a U.S. port of entry.

The reason for the change is twofold. First, over the past six years, DHS has implemented automated systems which capture entry and exit information on nonimmigrants, and using NSEERS to capture this information manually is now redundant and provides no increase in national security. Second (though not stated in the federal register notice), is that the program made travel cumbersome—nonimmigrants were required to register upon each arrival, taking 30 minutes per person.

However, NSEERS has not been completely eliminated. The new regulation would simply remove the aforementioned nations from the NSEERS list, but would leave the program in place so that it could possibly be used in the future by adding countries back on the NSEERS list. Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel, analyzed this decision:

Though DHS has made great progress in indefinitely suspending NSEERS, today’s move simply delists the affected countries and leaves the door open for renewed registration in the future. DHS should completely scrap this program and draw the appropriate lesson from the failure of NSEERS for its larger immigration enforcement strategy. Dragnet immigration enforcement programs that ignore lawful individual grounds for suspicion in favor of enabling group-based profiling are counter-productive to the goals of promoting public safety and national security and contrary to American values.

NSEERS is a legacy of post-9-11 hysteria over immigration. While DHS is essentially shelving the program, it is refusing to put it to rest, a sign that it can’t shake the need to have programs in place—even if only on paper—that sound extra tough on countries suspected of producing terrorists. If the program is, in fact, redundant then DHS should close it down for good. As IPC wrote in 2004, DHS authority to remove and restrict admission to the U.S. is incredibly broad, and the idea that we need to keep this outdated and misguided policy is wrong.


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  • Nonimigrants. It’s an interestin g concept, isn’t it? Computers have brought us so much closer together, we can reach out and talk to people in Iran and Syria and England and Iowa.

    The more we reach out, the more we realize a simple truth: most of us are pretty much struggling with the same issues, fighting the same battles on our home-groun d every day. We are all trying to find a productive way to bring value to the world so we can feed, clothe, and house ourselves and the people we love, cherish and go through life with. When we can’t find, afford, or are denied a productive way to accomplish this, we’ll find another way. Survival is the only imperative .

    It seems kind of silly to insist that the rest of the struggling bubs in the world not cross some imaginary line in the sand, when that line is crossed every day by our government officials and business leaders, to their own mutual benefit and controls.

    IMO, the problem isn’t immigration, illegal or otherwise, it is a worldwide lack of true opportunit y and access, combined with a lack of fair and measurable methods to evaluate an individual ‘s work and productive efforts as it relates to their ability to survive honorably.

    There’s no clear way to achieve this ideal for the average working individual , unless of course, there were some way to band/organ ize together in order to become a worldwide political force of change.

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