SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Five Bay Area members of Congress are leading a fight to make it harder for President-elect Donald Trump to force immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries to register with the federal government.
The United States actually created a registry for male immigrants from mostly Muslim and Arab countries after 9/11, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). The Obama Administration suspended the NSEERS program in 2011 amid widespread criticism. But the Trump administration could revive it on Day 1 of his presidency.
That’s why North Bay Congressman Jared Huffman, four Bay Area colleagues and 45 other House Democrats have sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to eliminate the NSEERS system.
“He shut it down but didn’t dismantle the regulatory framework for it,” Huffman told KCBS. “And given some of the promises we’ve heard from the President-elect, some of the people he’s surrounding himself with, there’s a palpable fear right now in the Muslim community and other minority communities about tools like this being abused.”
Civil rights groups and members of Congress criticized the NSEERS programs for its ethnic and religious profiling and undermining of immigrants’ rights, its inability to identify terrorist threats, and the severe penalties for noncompliance.
Huffman said the system deported 13,000 people, but insists it didn’t work as intended.
“There was not a single terrorism arrest or conviction that came from this program,” Huffman said.
Obama has the power to rescind it completely, which would force Trump and Republicans in Congress to start from scratch.
“This is not going to be easy for Trump to do. We just want to make it hard as possible,” Huffman said.