How You Can Help Stop the Shame of NSEERS
In late 2002, the Department of Justice‘s Immigration and Naturalization Service (now known as Department of Homeland Security-DHS and its component agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement-ICE) launched a campaign known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) with Special Call-In Registration phases.
The program was initially portrayed as an anti-terrorism measure which required male visitors to the US (from 25 Arab and Muslim countries along with North Korea) to be fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned by immigration officers. At the time, INS officials told ADC during a meeting, that they themselves were ill prepared to carry out this special call in registration and acknowledged numerous shortcomings. However, there were and still are criminal and civil penalties associated with failure to comply with NSEERS, including arrest, detention, monetary fines and/or removal from the United States.
ADC has noted that 84,000 Arabs and Muslims registered voluntarily and subsequently 14,000 of them were deported for voluntarily complying with the program. Yet, none, not one, of these registrants has been charged with terrorism. In December 2004, the NSEERS program was modified by the Department of Homeland Security, but many elements remain and are subject to abuse including: departure registration; registration at ports of entry; as well as the potential for the re-initiation of the call-in phase. It seems clear that NSEERS has become just another tool used in immigration enforcement and law enforcement in general, which raises serious constitutional issues as the program clearly discriminates on the basis of national origin.
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